The Glorification of Sadness

The Glorification of Sadness

When Paloma Faith started working on new music shortly after splitting from her partner of nine years, the father of her two children, she didn’t expect it to come to much. “I just said, ‘I don’t really want to write an album, I just want to go to the studio and use it as therapy,’” the singer-songwriter, born Paloma Faith Blomfield, tells Apple Music. “I sort of anticipated it would be the worst music I’d ever written, because usually when you are in the midst of anything, it’s really difficult to be creative. But people were like, ‘This is really good. Keep going.’” And as she did, her sixth studio album The Glorification of Sadness began to emerge, its tracklisting a beat-by-beat exploration of the myriad emotions she was weathering at the time. “It was a document of the stages of grief,” says Faith. “It was written over a year from the impact of the first initial shock, so it was naturally going through all of those feelings.” With raw balladry, keening rock anthems, UKG-powered escapism and plenty of empowered pop—alongside intimate, diary-entry-like spoken interludes and mantra-like moments that almost feel like Faith is singing herself back to strength—The Glorification of Sadness captures the power of walking away and reclaiming who you are. But also, of course, devastation, anger (on the excellently immature “Eat Shit and Die”), guilt, shame and, eventually, hope for the future. Making it was cathartic, but it also led to uneasy feelings about commodifying your pain in music and selling it for other people’s pleasure. “It’s quite a sinister relationship between creativity and the consumer,” says Faith, who chose this album’s title based on that exact premise. Yet, you can’t help but feel that this is an album the singer-songwriter had to make, rather than one she really wanted to, to process what she went through in the only way she knows how. And for all its pain, this is also an empowered (and empowering) listen that, at its core, embraces self-acceptance. “It’s accepting that we’re all flawed,” says Faith, who also executive produced the album. “We all make mistakes and we all hurt people. That’s what it’s meant to embody.” Read on as Faith guides us through The Glorification of Sadness, one song at a time. “Sweatpants” “I have felt this is quite a feminist album. It was important to me to get the line ‘when I’m old and no longer young’ in. I’m writing from a perspective of 15 years in the music business. It’s quite rare nowadays for female artists to have a lifetime career and [to] age in front of a public. I think there’s a lot of pressure on women. That line is very considered—but obviously everyone can relate to the sweatpants. We’re just Netflix and chilling with our partners and we don’t look as great as we used to.” “Pressure” “[Nottingham singer-songwriter] Liam Bailey introduced me to a load of tracks that Chase & Status had sent him. It was just the chorus at first, but it really spoke to me because it was what I was feeling before the breakup, which was this pressure of being a woman in this post-feminist era. I believe feminism started but kind of abandoned us halfway through its progress. I think quite a lot of women—having children or not—feel burned out by this expectation that we need to be dual people: maternal and kind and high-powered. It was about this pressure that I felt to be all things. I’ve known Kojey Radical [who features on the track] since we were kids. He asked me what the song was about and I said I’d like to get a male perspective because he feels the pressure as well. He wants to be a good father to a son.” “God in a Dress” “Kelsy Karter was one of the people who worked on this song—she’s a brilliant artist. She sent me an original version of this song which was written with her and [US-based producer] Martin Wave, who ended up producing pretty much the whole record. She’s got a real rock energy, sort of like a Joan Jett, Janis Joplin or Chrissie Hynde—a legendary-rock-woman vibe that I admire. Not all the lyrics were completely applicable to me, so I changed them with her permission. Then, it became this collaboration—this proper female, girl-power collaboration, and a lot of celebrating with one another. It’s the same kind of theme as ‘Pressure’, but it’s about being empowered rather than put down. It’s about saying, ‘Actually, I am kind of omnipotent.’” “How You Leave a Man” “It’s up and down all the time, but this is the first moment when you’re like, ‘OK, I’m going to do it. I’m going to really challenge myself to get out of this. I’ve been whinging for too long.’ I hate people complaining about stuff and doing nothing about it, and I felt like I’d become that person. It’s daring yourself to do something. That’s what the song’s about. At the time, you feel empowered by the fact that you’ve had the balls to do it. Obviously later in the album, we start worrying whether it is the right thing to do, but I was like, ‘Right, this is it. Empowerment. I don’t need anyone.’ And this song really embodies that.” “There’s Nothing More Human Than Failure” “It was meant to be me reassuring myself and also expressing the guilt and shame. It’s a contrast to the song before where it’s like, ‘I did this and I’m full of empowerment’, and then it’s like, ‘Oh, I’ve ruined a lot of people’s lives, not just mine and my ex, but there’s kids involved.’ This is a mantra just to remind myself that I’m flawed and that there’s nothing more human than that.” “Bad Woman” “This song is about feeling judged by myself, judged by society, judged by my family that I’d done the absolute worst. People always assume that I’ve been cheated on and that that’s why I left. Because everyone’s got this formula that they subscribe to, that no woman would ever leave a man unless he hit her or cheated on her—those are our permitted exit routes. And if we’re not happy, we should still stay because that’s what the patriarchy tells us. I just thought, ‘Everyone thinks I’m a bad woman because of it.’ It’s about rebelling against the expectation on women to be good. It’s about saying, ‘I actually don’t care. I’m going to be bad. And if it means that I’m happier, then I’m happy for you to all think that I’m bad.’” “Cry on the Dance Floor” “The only one that I didn’t write during this breakup—I wrote it a long time ago. With every album that I did, I was like, ‘I want to put this record out.’ And everyone was always like, ‘No, it’s not right. It doesn’t fit.’ Even for this album. But in the narrative, this is the moment you go out and you are reckless and you drink too much or act irresponsibly. You’ve lost all sense of self-worth [so] that you just don’t even care. I just went full house and garage on it because that’s my background. That’s when I was young and what I was into in the ’90s—I wrote it with MJ Cole who’s a key person in that era.” “Say My Name” “This is the idea that I have lost myself so much and feel so hazy with depression and guilt and sadness. I was also so tired because my kids are really young and they wake up in the night and then I can’t sleep. You have to remember your own identity and also face yourself looking at your own reflection. With an end of a big relationship that defines your identity, and with becoming a parent that then [also] changes your identity, you often feel, as a woman, very lost in all of it. So it is cathartic to be like, ‘This is helping me remember my own identity.’” “Let It Ride” “That’s Maverick Sabre’s backing vocals, and I love him so much. This is another collaboration with Kelsy Karter, the rock queen. This one embodies London nightlife—the dirt and sleaze of it. It reminds me of pre-gentrification Soho, which is kind of where I grew up and where I developed my musical identity. It was like rock and jazz in Soho. It’s another reckless moment.” “The Big Bang Ending” “I think we’ve been cultivated culturally about breakups to be like—I don’t know what word to use—but, ‘Oh, he’s just a bastard.’ Or, ‘What a bitch.’ No, actually it’s even worse in a way when you fundamentally can’t continue—they call it irreconcilable differences—as opposed to something dramatic happening where you could just loathe the person.” “Eat Shit and Die” “That’s the petulant child. It goes from a level of maturity, of ‘We have done couples therapy, we’ve done all of this profound soul-searching’, [to] ‘You’ve just said something really irritating to me, so I’m going to become a toddler.’ Then you go home like, ‘I feel shit. I know I let myself down. I’d said all these intelligent things and I really got to a place of progress and now I’m acting like a dickhead.’ That’s what this song’s about. Sonically, it’s like a Disney version—it’s supposed to be cynical.” “Divorce” “I don’t know if I’ll get to play this one live because I find it really sad. It feels like the most private version of me on a record I’ve ever put out. I think my vocals are almost closer to my speaking voice. It doesn’t have the theatre of my normal persona, Paloma Faith. It’s more like Paloma Blomfield, which is my actual surname. It feels very vulnerable. Also, when I wrote it, it was harrowing and hard and the delivery is very soft. Then I decided that I’d make it even worse and add my children’s voices onto the beginning, which I can barely listen to when I hear it because it’s just them in the garden.” “Hate When You’re Happy” “When you are still miserable, you imagine that your ex is having a great life and loves being without you. Also, sometimes, we feel like we contribute to our exes becoming the person that we wanted them to be for someone else. Now, you’ve got this new house and you’re doing really well and I just want to burn it all down because it wouldn’t have happened without me.” “Enjoy Yourself” “It’s like the beginning signs of an attempt at trying to see light at the end of the tunnel. When you initially experience grief, it’s constant. Then, there become moments where the gap gets wider and wider and wider. You have moments where you can see this idea of potential or optimism or hope. It is basically saying you’ve got no other option unless you wallow in self-pity forever.” “I am Enough” “I’m somebody who always wants to learn, I don’t want to repeat patterns, and it’s a reflection on that. But also, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, or maybe my choices have been fuelled by insecurity. I’ve always been a high achiever and I think that it’s all fuelled by not feeling ‘enough’. So it is just trying to learn that you might be. I did a lot of therapy around this breakup and one of the things that the therapist said to me is, ‘Why is good enough not good enough?’ My theory has always been exceptional is the only option. So I think it’s about that, and telling yourself about having a relationship with you, rather than attaching yourself to other people or thinking other people might define you.” “Mirror to Mirror” “I wrote notes all the time—some of them were going to turn into lyrics and some of them just didn’t feel like they would, but I still wanted to say them. I think this was one of the notes I wrote when I was writing ‘Say My Name’, that you find the light or you find some hope in yourself in a way that maybe you’ve never done before. I hadn’t. I still haven’t really. I was working on it.” “Already Broken” “It’s about starting to date other people and feeling like I’ve never dated anybody as a single mum with two kids before. I’ve had a whole lifetime. I wasn’t quite sure how it would work because all the words that we can say to each other, I’ve said them and heard them before and it didn’t work out. I still don’t know the conclusion because I’m not in a relationship, but it was about a time when I was exploring the prospect of having another relationship. I kept saying when I wrote it, it’s sort of like a love song that you play at a second or third wedding when couples have got together after having tried before.”

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