Faith herself has described the album as "cinematic and theatrical", a record to "transport the listener away from our heavy reality". Over the course of these ten tracks, you can certainly see what she's getting at, though in truth the record falls just short of that ambitious goal. It kicks off with her debut single, 'Stone Cold Sober', a tightly-wound soul anthem that makes Just Saying No sound like the most brilliantly twisted fun a gal can have. Though nothing else on the album quite matches it, several other moments do come pretty close.
'Upside Down' backs up Faith's claim to have absorbed influences from the pre-rock 'n' roll era, mixing up a '50s dancehall vibe with her ever-present soul croon. Recent single 'New York' sounds better than it did in isolation, its swoops and swirls working well in the context of an album that doesn't try to repeat the trick elsewhere. The title track is a moody, understated thunderstorm of a song, showing off the album's most intricate production as well as its finest lyrics ("Do you want the truth or something beautiful? / Just close your eyes and make believe... I am happy to deceive you"). Then there's 'Smoke and Mirrors', a pacey pop-rock-soul crossover track that blends crisp guitar strokes with sweeping strings.
Elsewhere though, the strength of Faith's voice can't quite elevate the songs from the ordinary to the exceptional. 'Broken Doll' and 'Stargazer' let the side down with their straightforward arrangements, while 'My Legs Are Weak' and 'Romance Is Dead' lack the hooks to match their witty lyrics ("I ask you for a letter / So you emailed / Have we failed?"). But even in the album's duller moments, Faith always sounds passionate and genuine - a definite plus in a musical landscape populated by genre-hoppers and hacks. Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? might not transport you completely from our heavy reality, but it definitely offers a pleasant diversion.
> Click here to read our recent interview with Paloma Faith