Paloma Faith :: Fall To Grace

Posted: November 30, 2012 in Albums
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Paloma Faith :: Fall to Grace
Release Date: 2012.12.04
Pre-Order: CD w/ autographed booklet
Available on Amazon: Album | CD

This album literally became my “saving grace.” I stumbled on it at a time when I was trying to sort out various relationship issues. There wasn’t much I could do about said issues at the time which made them worse. I was frustrated, a little bit scared, mostly insecure. That’s when Paloma swept me off my feet and carried me to a better place (mentally).

The first song I heard was “Picking Up the Pieces,” incidentally the first single, also the first track on the album. The first few lines… were exactly what I was thinking at the time. It was eerie. Downright creepy. It scared me.

Do you think of her when you’re with me?
Repeat the memories you made together, whose face do you see?
Do you wish I was a bit more like her?
Am I too loud? I play the clown to cover up all these doubts

As the song went on, it just got worse. Every word, every thought, every fear. Right there, laid out by this angelic, soulful voice that delved straight into my muddled head, pulling everything out into sharp focus.

Now she’s gone and I’m picking up the pieces
I watch you cry but you don’t see that I’m the one by your side
‘Cause she’s gone, in her shadow is it me you see?
‘Cause all that’s left is you and I and I’m picking up the pieces she left behind

Then, there was the music. At first, the full instrumental backing combined with the almost danceable beat seemed to contradict the heavier lyrics. But in the end, they combined to raise the song to something more hopeful, even empowering. The music infused strength in the confession, honed it and sharpened it into a determination to make things work.

I would’ve posted just about that track alone but I loved the next song so much, I couldn’t bear to choose between them. “30 Minute Love Affair” is a mellower recollection of, well, a short term love. While I couldn’t apply that directly to my current state, it brought back memories of the past, fleeting moments I could look back on with a mixture of fondness and acceptance. It’s really one of my favorite tracks, for the construction and melody alone. The emotional component just makes it that much more.

The other tracks deftly span genre boundaries from moody soul and jazz to more playful disco and dance. Admittedly, I’m not a normally a soul/jazz/r&b fan but the lyrics caught me every time. “The Beauty of the End” has one of my favorite lines, “Falling never hurts, but landing does.” “Black & Blue” is something I want to tell every single member of my family with judgmental eyes:

I know you’ll find it hard to accept it sometimes
We all feel black and we feel blue
Wipe it off your sleeve – your superiority
Don’t roll your eyes, my sweet

The list goes on and on. That was the recurring trend throughout the album. If at any point, the music started to lose me, Paloma’s words (and stunning vocals) put me right back on track again. I couldn’t skip any tracks. Something in the songs would draw me in, make me want to listen.

Finally, “Just Be.” I almost can’t even talk about this song. It rings so true, I can’t even begin to describe how deeply it resonates with me.

Let’s be exposed and unprotected
Let’s see one another when we’re weak
Let’s go our separate ways in the night like two moths
But know that you’re flying home to me.

That is the absolute hardest thing when you’re with someone, isn’t it? These are the places in your mind you don’t want to go, let alone allow anyone to see. Letting go of your defenses is probably the hardest thing to achieve. It’s also one of the most crucial if you’re serious about being with someone. So much of that is trust- that they won’t take advantage of that weakness. That they’ll come home to you.

Don’t say nothing, just sit next to me
Don’t say nothing… shhh.
Just be, just be, just be.

The silence, the reverence with which Paloma sings this never fails to choke me up. There’s a point in every relationship where you just want to stop. Breathe. Take a moment together away from all the noise, even if it’s in your own mind. Drop all the masks. Knock down the walls. Just be.

I’d first seen Paloma on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I was intrigued by the short music video clip they showed as part of her intro but I didn’t really pursue her further. Jazz wasn’t really my thing. I have to be in a very specific mood for it. Then came a day when I was suddenly overcome with a desire to listen to Amy Winehouse. I added some of her albums to Spotify and remembered Paloma did a bit of jazz. So I added her too. That’s how it started. I’ve been listening nonstop ever since.

A recent article/interview in the New York Times commented, “This album is full of breakup songs. What was your state of mind, writing?”

Paloma answered, “It was a bit sad, but I did want it to be hopeful. That’s why I called it ‘Fall to Grace.’ I wanted it to be like, bad things happen, but there’s always light at the end.”

In that, she succeeded. But more than an album of “breakup” songs, Fall to Grace is about facing truths, about yourself, about your partner, about your relationship to each other and the world around you. It’s about finding strength in others, in yourself to face whatever challenges life brings.

xx

Originally posted here.

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