Ice On The Dune
Paloma Faith has promised to reveal more of herself on this follow-up to a hugely successful debut.
The British belter announced herself with some style on 2009's Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? - a collection of big tunes delivered by a huge charismatic voice. There was always the sense though that Faith was playing a part, performing the songs rather than singing them, and that's presumably what she aims to change. She doesn't quite get there.
Whether that's a problem is up to the listener. Where Faith the performer really works is in the vast, dramatic numbers like opener Picking Up The Pieces, where her skyscraping vocals buffet the whirl of strings, and the bluesy bruised soul of Just Be. Elsewhere Black & Blue recounts a life spent with the down-and-outs that doesn't ring true and her affected femme fatale drawl on Let Me Down Easy is just hammy.
The best stuff takes risks, the earliest of which must have been the intriguing decision to work with veteran Massive Attack and Bjork producer Nellee Hooper. How much of the frequent use of dubstep sonics is down to him is moot, but they add a fresh patina of modernity. Other successful gambles include the storming breakbeat gospel of Freedom, the Phil Spector-enormity of Let Your Love Walk In and some soft synth pop on 30 Minute Love Affair.
This is where she succeeds. Faith doesn't have to mix it up like this, but she's so much more charming when she does.