British singer-actress Paloma Faith has only appeared in a handful of films — but they’ve been fun ones, like Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.”
They were instructional experiences, as well, and Gilliam gave her sage advice. “He said you should never compromise your ideas,” she says. “If money prevents you from articulating them in the way you wanted, then you have to figure out a way to do it within your budget.”
Faith applied that insight to her music career, which has caught fire thanks to her U.K.-smash sophomore CD, “Fall to Grace,” whose U.S. release brings her to The City this week.
As a recording artist, the 27-year-old says in her Elizabethan-perfect diction, “I hear daily the phrase, ‘We haven’t got the budget for that,’ and it’s quite suffocating sometimes. Because I think I’ve got loads of great ideas, and it’s frustrating to not be at a level where you can have them all.”
So she makes do. She favors innovative young British designers over top-name houses. Her cutting-edge wardrobe has grown so big, it’s housed on rails in her New York apartment, where she moved to work on “Grace.”
Her worst fear is not looking glamorous for rabid fans, who often fall at her feet, sobbing. (“I just say, ‘Please don’t cry — I’m not worth it,’” she says). She even ran the Olympic torch in July through her birthplace of Hackney in 6-inch red high heels.
“I call myself a post-feminist,” she explains of her stylish look. “Because my femininity and my sexuality belong to me, and I’m reclaiming what is rightfully mine.”
Still, from the Nellee Hooper-assisted record’s soulful opening stomper (and debut U.S. single) “Picking up the Pieces,” through “Agony,” “Black & Blue” and “30 Minute Love Affair,” the whiskey-throated belter wails about nothing but heartbreak.
“But it’s actually about a few relationships, because that’s how I go through them,” she says. “I’ve always got a boyfriend.”
While acquiring degrees in dance and theater direction and design, the brainy beauty started trilling 1950s and ’60s chestnuts, just for fun, with pub musicians as Paloma & The Penetrators.
“But I ended up kind of enjoying myself with it,” she says. Soon she was penning her own R&B material.
Theoretically, Faith could write, stage, direct and star in her very own musical. “I’d love to! I just need to find the people who believe in me,” she says. “But so far, a lot of people get really worried about giving me vast amounts of money. They think I’m going to spunk it!”
If you go
Where: The Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.ticketfly.com