Paloma Faith has unleashed her politically charged assault in the form of her fifth full length studio album The Architect upon the world. This fifteen track Pop/Soul/R&B testimonial of the thoughts and feelings surrounding political oppression of the masses is truly a step in the right direction to speak out publically against the social norms of yesteryear where many have fought tooth and nail to be heard, acted upon and rectified.
In the past few months Faith has aroused great interest in her latest album with the release of the first two singles off of TA, ‘Crybaby’ an anti-man up Disco/Funk Public Service Announcement and ‘Guilty’ the initial reaction of becoming a social pariah for breaking against the social and political norms teamed with the vibe of an early 2000’s James Bond theme.
One of the most interesting factors about TA are the injections of speeches, thoughts and feelings from the one and only Samuel L. Jackson and the British Left-wing Columnist Author Owen Jones, who deliver their messages of hope and pride for the ongoing fight for freedom like true revolutionaries.
The flow of ‘TA’ gives moments of true defiance and passion for the liberation of downtrodden minorities. Its message for the most part is extremely easy to recognise as you follow the narrative closely track by track. Some of the most noteworthy moments within the album besides the brilliant first two singles off of the album include: ‘Still Around’ (Track 12), ‘Warrior’ (Track 9) and my personal favourite track off of the album ‘I’ll Be Gentle’ (Track 5).
‘I’ll Be Gentle’ is a beautifully composed duet between Faith and John Legend consisting of an emotional breakthrough in relation to Faith’s earlier track ‘Crybaby’. Its lyrics peer back the curtain into the pain and suffering inside of a man’s heart and the burning desire to trust your emotions and to be compassionate. With a song talking about trust between two souls, the partnership between Legend and Faith’s vocals already inhabit a harmonious, trusting and loving affair as the two both spill their souls in the form of one voice together.
‘Warrior’ is an attention clencher due to the now vulnerable storyline taking forth over the progression of the album. The overwhelming message in this soulful track is an essence of despair, while begging for mercy and strength in the people who believed in her vision for change. An interesting connotation whether intentional or not, is the relevance of black and blue in the chorus line, which relates back to Faith’s fifth and final single off of her second studio album Fall to Grace. In which the single ‘Black & Blue’ spoke of not judging a book by its cover and not ignoring the struggles of others, because we all suffer and we all feel pain one way or another. Going off of this hunch, Warrior is not only calling for the poor souls mentioned in Black & Blue as Faith’s saviour in this period of helplessness, but also Warrior could be her own Black & Blue extended storyline due to the admission of her internal pain.
‘Still Around’ is a mid tempo R&B track with some serious Jessica Rabbit vibes, delving into the frustration of fighting alone due to the followers of Faith’s liberation essentially dropping like flies. The track is a reminder that without a clear declaration of unity our hope for change cannot come to fruition, whether that is a personal affair or for social justice.
The Architect is a ballsy musical direction especially within the current political and social climate; you can't help but commend Faith for having the inner steel to put staple her stance within her lyrics.
The Architect is nothing but a pleasurable listen, and its story arch feels so fluid and honest, that it almost feels like a conversation with a good friend or even pages out of her diary. My only critique involves some songs across the album feel like expansions of previous tracks, which don’t seem to pack as much of a punch. Besides the mentioned possible flaws, The Architect is a rarity in popular contemporary music with an impassioned voice of reason that doesn’t lose the ever endearing Paloma Faith charm.