“I was adamant with this record that I wouldn’t write about love – I wanted to look outside of myself and write about wider issues facing our world. But, ironically, when you listen to it it’s really a whole album about love.” Paloma Faith
‘The Architect’, the fourth album from Paloma, contains among other things Samuel L. Jackson, Owen Jones, John Legend, a track called WW3 and a song sung from the point of view of a dead body. It is quite a departure for the soul singer from Hackney. “I’ve always played the long game,” says Paloma. “I decided before I’d ever released a record that I wanted my music to say something, as well as to entertain. That’s why I titled my debut album ‘Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?’ But I also didn’t think it wise to come in all guns blazing, because nobody would listen to a deeper message if I didn’t build a platform to stand on. I was biding my time. Now feels instinctively like the time for a record which shows a broader emotional palette than before. I want to use any influence I have to challenge, as well as to celebrate what’s good about this world.”
So, this definitely felt like the right time to express observations spawned by Paloma’s long-standing strong feminist and socialist beliefs. Commercially, she is the only British female after Adele to have all her three albums go double-platinum in the UK. All three albums — 2009’s ‘Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?’, 2012’s ‘Fall to Grace’ and 2014’s ‘A Perfect Contradiction’ — have vastly outsold the last, peaking in 2015 when Paloma won her first BRIT Award for British Female Solo Artist. ‘Changing’, her 2014 collaboration with Sigma, became her first UK number one single, joining other global chart-topping classics like ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’ which reached No 1 in Australia. On her most recent tour she graduated to arenas. She’s huge, but very much on her own terms. For instance, inviting journalist and activist Owen Jones to open for her in London and Brighton displayed a desire to use her high profile to start conversations and effect change.
Paloma began making the album while she was pregnant and finished it as a new mother. “When you have a child, you look at the world differently,” she says. “I wanted to explain things to my child about the world they’re coming into, and to apologise for it.”
‘The Architect’ takes on some very big issues — climate change, war, racism, refugees — but it avoids bombastic slogans, focussing instead on how social problems affect, and sometimes reflect, relationships with friends, family and lovers. The qualities of honesty and empathy that are so important one-to-one are also sorely needed in the political sphere.
“It could sound like a relationship album because I’ve written it in the first person,” says Paloma. “There isn’t a separation between society, politics, love, hate, birth, death. It’s all part of one thing.