Single Review: Paloma Faith – ‘Smoke & Mirrors’

Paloma Faith used to be a magician’s apprentice y’know.

She used to be many things, so I’ll bet she’s speaking from experience on this one, the sixth release from her début album, ‘Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?’, after ‘Stone Cold Sober’, ‘New York’, the title track, ‘Upside Down’, and ‘New York (2010)’, despite only two actually reaching the Top 40, and I certainly wouldn’t have chosen ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ as the last chance saloon if I’m honest.

That’s not to say it isn’t good, because it’s got all the necessary Paloma ingredients in order for the listeners to enjoy, plus an extra helping of catchiness in the verses that bop along to a bouncy bassline. It’s also got Paloma’s rich, velvety voice sounding more distinct that ever; she’s singing as if she’s rhythmically rehearsed this speech in which she’s accusing a man of being one big hoax, like she’s been led into a room of smoke and mirrors, none-the-less. As well as that, she’s uncovering the man’s constantly irritating foibles with her trademark devilishly seductive grin and sharp tongue, just listen to those mocking lyrics – “Dicta-coated miracles, and then one day the curtain called/Behind your smile, you’re phoney and a fake”. You can’t she does things by half, even if she’s distressed.

So whilst it more than convinces the listener that it’s a brilliant little song with more lyrical twists than an Ed Drewett single, is there really any point releasing it now? It’s almost a year after Paloma had her last Top 40 single (‘New York’), and any recognition (she was snubbed by the BRITs), or any promotion. She’s already working on her second album, so maybe this is just to sell a few more copies of her first album?

Either way, there’s no denying the song’s brilliance, and how it utilises the deceptive metaphor of “smoke and mirrors” into a relationship involving someone who claimed to be something they’re not – “And know we’re through, the show is over/The audience is walking out the room/You know it’s true, what I’ve told you/That all you’ve done comes back around on you”. It boasts the same kind of thought and care Paloma’s put into all her other singles, and album tracks for that matter, by disguising the lyrics in a flowery, showy niceness that really says something along the lines of “get out of my life, you’ve ruined it and you smell funny”, it’s like she delicately crafts every little piece of her music, to almost annoying standards, but even so, she displays more musical knowledge than plenty of other, more well-known artists of today.

The video is hilarious, despite looking like it only cost £20.

0:50… THE FACE!

It’s a puzzling situation she’s been dropped in, because she’s released yet another top notch tune, but at the same time, it’s utterly forgettable, which constitutes a problem if it doesn’t shift albums. I’ll be buying it for sure, but I won’t expect it to have a massive impact on any chart because there’s just no talk surrounding her, and we all secretly know that a re-release ‘Upside Down’ would’ve been better.

Rating: 4.0 STARS

Download: October 25, 2010 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?’

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