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Paloma & Co.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sasha Frere-Jones' recent article in The New Yorker about the
British songstress Paloma Faith’s entrée into the United States market got me
thinking about the fortunes of British female singers on this side of the pond.

Jones explores the potential success of Faith, who hasn’t
been on the British scene for very long and is on the verge of launching over
here, in relation to the most popular of the recent UK women vocalist imports – Amy Winehouse and Adele – and declares that there’s room over here for another Brit diva if Faith can come up with a certifiable hit as Winehouse and Adele did before her.

I’d argue that a hit song isn’t the only thing that will more likely ensure Faith’s name recognition in the US. The type of voice and the image the singer possesses is also an important factor. What Faith has in common with Adele and Winehouse is her old-fashioned persona and a big,
soul-centered voice to go with it. That’s what American audiences seem to go for, judging by the rapturous way in which they have responded to Adele and Winehouse.

If being a 1950s throwback is what it takes to make it big in America, then it’s no wonder that singers whom I think have much more unusual and interesting voices, such as the bracing Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, don’t get the same airplay over here.

This is a shame. Paloma Faith is a fine singer. But her voice doesn’t have much of a grain and she lacks physical presence in spite of her retro hairdos and little girl lost gaze. In short, I’d like to see more
variety in the US market’s tastes when it comes to importing singing talent from the other side of the ocean.

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