Review: Paloma Ford – X Tapes

Photo: Jalil Miles

Words: Jake Abatan

"Ford explores feelings of vulnerability and the sensuality of heartache through a nostalgic R&B lens."

'X Tapes', the newest EP from Californian singer-songwriter Paloma Ford, is a wistful reflection on lost love. Throughout the seven tracks, Ford explores feelings of vulnerability and the sensuality of heartache through a nostalgic R&B lens. Being influenced by the likes of Aaliyah, Sade and Janet Jackson, Ford’s aesthetic is one of strong femininity.

The first track on 'X Tapes,' ‘Rain’, introduces us to Ford's sensuality. Through hushed vocals, she urges a lover to ‘rain down on me’ whilst also imploring them ‘don’t go chasing waterfalls’. Backed by a sultry slow beat, the song introduces us to a recurring dichotomy in 'X Tapes' – in love pain and pleasure go hand-in-hand. 

Where ‘Rain’ shows Ford enjoying the pleasures in love, ‘Space’ reveals the pain to come. Melancholic and contemplative in tone, the track features Ford in a more emotional and self-reflexive register than ‘Rain’. ‘You know I wanna stay, but I gotta give you space’, sings Ford. Thematically the song is about maturity in love and doing what’s best for yourself. 

Much of 'X Tapes' follows a similar recipe to ‘Space’ – Ford sings from the heart and always to herself. On ‘Nights I Cry’ Ford fixates obsessively on the heartache of a past love. The song has a dream-like feel with the instrumentals drifting in and out of focus. On the chorus Ford repeats the lyric ‘all the nights I cried’ and a backing singer echoes her words back to her – as if they are thoughts rushing though her head. 

All For Nothing feels more open, with the track featuring Rick Ross. The song is about turning the heartache of ‘Nights I Cry’ into something positive and Ford comes to the conclusion that ‘Maybe my loss is a blessing/It wasn’t love just a lesson’. Ross’ feature goes a long way to make the song feel dynamic and fresh. 

Live closer ‘Chrome 'In My Feelings'' is a powerful assertion of feminine independence, and the boldest moment on the EP both sonically and thematically. ‘I don’t need anybody I can make it on my own’ sings Ford as she reaches the climactic conclusion that ‘I ain’t fucking with you no more’.

Rating: 8/10

For Fans Of: Aaliyah, Jessie Reyez