Is Paloma Faith the UK’s Answer to Lady Gaga?

Paloma Faith played Le Baron last night. She’s an English chanteuse—chant-OOZE, the intern who studied French corrects me—who is being positioned as the new Lady Gaga. Yesterday afternoon, since I don’t do anything after 7:30pm, I went to see Ms. Faith perform at the Soho House. There were a bunch of music editors there and we were served chicken and salmon beforehand. Then we were led into a screening room and shown the music video below on a big screen: 

The video is pretty bombastic. It also makes absolutely no sense. Though I liked the song, and continue to like it, the video disinclined me to Ms. Faith. Or maybe more accurately, it made me resent whosoever decided to position her as the next Lady Gaga. After the video, Ms. Faith emerged out of a side door. She was wearing an amazing up-do and a cable knit gown. She had two back-up singers including one called Baby Sol who was amazing looking and sounding. There was a pianist. Without speaking, Ms. Faith launched into her song  "30 Minute Love Affair." 

I still didn’t love her at this point though my positiion was slowly melting. After the song—which she later explained was about the time she fell in love with a busker when she was 14—she began to talk. She has a very strong and not at all posh English accent. She also has a dorky laugh. It’s a loud guffaw and it’s  totally adorable. When she let out the laugh, which was clearly happening because she was nervous to be shown off to a room of music editors, it made me really really like her. Regardless of the trappings and her positioning, Ms. Faith is a sweet girl with a tremendous voice. I think it is misstep to gird her in the trappings of an outré performance artist since it places this overly weighty mantle on her that I don’t think she can, or should have to, bear. It also sets her up in opposition to Ms. Germanotta which is a strategic error. (Granted, who knows when Gaga will ever release new music.)

Ms. Faith played a few songs, including "Picking Up The Pieces," which she explained she sang because she wanted to prove she could actually sing it (she could). Oh, before I forget! Watch this: 

Anyway, back to the important stuff. Her album, Fall to Grace, is huge in the UK and will be released sometime in the States by Epic, who just signed her. That is, according to her, "up to us." Us in this case being the assembled music editors. She sang a few more of her songs. Among them the most musically strong would be a track called "Just Be," though she adorably and incoherently explained it as a song about being in a long term relationship. "I’ve never been in one," she said, "but I imagine this is what it’s like."  Then she laughed and it was great.

After her set, she stood in the front of the room "in case we wanted to talk to her." I couldn’t think of anything to say so I didn’t really. I also have no idea whether she’ll be "huge" or if this is something I’ll tell my kids about and they’ll think I was cool. Chances are, regardless, they’ll never think I"m very cool.  Musically, Ms. Faith has the talent to make it big here. Though her material, at times, fails her and the marketing approach around her—high fashion, weird, lots of allusions—does not serve her, she’s the real deal. She’s not Adele. She’s not Gaga. She’s just herself.  So instead of watching the video or buying the hype, listen to the album with your eyes closed. And if you ever get a chance to hear her laugh, go unto her and hear it. 

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