Though she made her live return wearing the colours of the EU flag and compared her imminent fourth album to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Paloma Faith insisted that her new music is only political with a small p.
The Architect, out next week, even features a cameo from political journalist Owen Jones (not to mention John Legend and Samuel L Jackson) but as Faith explained to a small audience of Radio 2 competition winners, it’s really about “kindness, compassion and love”. Lost and Lonely, a soulful highlight with sparkling backing vocals from three singers in white dresses and sunglasses, was inspired by a documentary about a woman who died in her living room and wasn’t discovered for three years. Faith sang from the surprising perspective of her skeleton.
She had less compassion for whoever was in charge of the smoke machine, twice insisting that it be switched off to protect her voice. She hasn’t sung in public for a while. This was effectively her first day back at work from maternity leave, after her first child was born last December in less than smooth circumstances. When you’ve “been to the gates of hell and brought back an angel,” as she put it, you can do anything.
That means accepting an offcut from prolific A-list songwriter Sia, Warrior, and delivering it as a powerful anthem for asylum seekers. Then there was WW3, which rather overegged the scale of a relationship battle in a way that suited her rarely subtle voice.
A set comprised two-thirds of new songs in front of 400 people was never going to earn the full rapture this dedicated perfomer may have desired, but there was enough to suggest she could be on her way to her fourth double-platinum album. Music’s still going well – becoming a politician can wait.
March 14, O2 Arena, SE10 (0844 824 4824, the02.co.uk)