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Taken from The Arts Desk (Apr 07, 2024)

Album: Fabiana Palladino - Fabiana Palladino review

A remarkably sleek and sophisticated debut

by Harry Thorfinn-George

Shades of neon
Shades of neon

A Fabiana Palladino album has felt like a possibility since the early 2010s. Back then she was a session musician touring with the likes of SBTRKT, Jessie Ware and Sampha. In 2017 she was approached by the elusive producer Jai Paul to join his new label, Paul Institute. She released three excellent singles with the label over the next four years, making a name for herself as an unhurried perfectionist with a knack for warped 1980s grooves.

After many years then, there is finally a Fabiana Palladino debut. It is a meticulously crafted album of funky, downcast 80s R&B and synth-pop which sounds like the moody sibling of Janet Jackson's Control or Patrice Rushen's Now. With robust hooks and produced by Jai Paul with a staggering amount of detail, it is ear candy for audiophiles and casual listeners alike.

Fabiana Palladino is a lexicon of 80s styles. "Stay With Me Through the Night" leans more towards disco's rhythmic guitars and wah-wah pedals while "Deeper" sounds like high-definition Depeche Mode. "Shoulda", on the other hand, is unadulterated Prince worship. These pitch perfect sounds are partly achieved by the assistance of musicians who were there the first time around, such as world-renowned bassist (and Fabiana's father) Pino Palladino and drummer Steve Ferrone (Chaka Khan, Duran Duran).

But Palladino and Paul's studio wizardry ensures that the album goes beyond mere pastiche. The shimmering reverb on "Give Me a Sign", the ricocheting vocals on "I Care" and the layered harmonies on "Forever" make these songs sound entirely three-dimensional. Jai Paul's experimental flourishes, like on "In the Fire" where a guitar sounds like it is being digested by an alien, places the songs firmly in the 21st century.

The track list could have benefitted from more of these experimental freakouts where Palladino and Paul pushed the limits of their sound. Regardless, it is a strong debut album which serves as a formal introduction to an artist who has been on the side-lines for too long.




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