Release Date: Nov 17, 2017
Record label: RCA
I f Paloma Faith hadn't trumpeted The Architect as her "political with a small 'p'" album, it might sound just like another big, brassy retro soul collection about love and heartache. It's far from obvious that the swaggering Guilty apparently expresses the thoughts of a regretful Brexit voter ("I'm living in my worst fears / Begging you back through tears"). Samuel L Jackson's opening monologue about revolution is far more direct than the subsequent title track's oblique apparent references to domestic violence.
A fter perfecting her mildly kooky retro-soul sound across three albums, The Architect messes with the Paloma Faith formula, lyrics-wise at least. Gently pulsating lead single Crybaby, for example, is about fragile masculinity; the title track is a typically dramatic ballad sung from the perspective of planet Earth addressing humanity, while the doo-wop stylings of WW3 deal with impending catastrophe. For the most part these more outward-looking conceits are housed in familiar musical settings - the Bond theme-lite Guilty feels like a song she's released five times already - but there's fun to be had in Til I'm Done's plastic disco shimmy and the skipping, featherlight pop of Kings and Queens.
Paloma Faith calls her fourth album a "social observation record", and it begins with a spoken-word intro from Samuel L Jackson, who tells us, "Do not be fearful of evolution - the time is now". Left-wing political commentator Owen Jones, who's previously opened for Faith on tour, pops up later to argue for "a society run in the interests of the majority". Then there's another track on which Faith's backing singers explain why they feel like "pawns".