Release Date: Mar 17, 2009
Record label: Decca
Genre(s): Rock, Pop
She may not sell as well or enjoy their prominent rock status, but I'd bet there's more concentrated excitement over a new Marianne Faithfull album than any new Rolling Stones release could inspire in even their hardiest fan. There are certainly fewer dashed expectations. Unlike the group that ostensibly "discovered" her (those quote marks should be in 72-point font), Faithfull has carved a niche as a gifted and idiosyncratic interpreter embedded in the present but engaged with the past.
Cave sings backing vocals on the Decemberists' "The Crane Wife 3," its lithe rock arrangement shaded by a beautiful British folk-style melody and gorgeous bass work by Cohen, celeste by Burger, and a three-piece string section. While Wainwright's signature backing vocals grace a jazzy arrangement of Espers' "Children of Stone," and the chart is eight minutes of pure, nocturnal lounge lizard eros, it does go on a bit too long, emptying it somewhat of its power. Ellington's "Solitude" works far better, as Faithfull's command of sparse phrases drives the tune, expressing more in the spaces between words than the words themselves -- or even her voice.
For her 22nd album, Easy Come, Easy Go, the onetime folk ingenue with the weary, million-Marlboro rasp spent eight days knocking out other artists’ compositions with a host of guests — among them Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power, and old buddy Keith Richards. Her interpretations of songbook classics from the likes of Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, and Smokey Robinson (as well as a few relative youngsters, including Neko Case and the Decemberists) are gratifyingly intimate and rough-hewn, and the production is gorgeous — even if it does, as its title implies, fail to leave a lasting impact. B? Download This: Listen to the song ”Down From Dover” on the singer’s MySpace See all current music reviews from EW .
In her role as cabaret artiste de nos jours, Faithfull has interpreted writers from Brecht/Weill to P J Harvey with a keen sense of her own story; inclining therefore to the dark, desolate and rueful. Reunited with producer Hal Willner, an association that goes back to 1987's Strange Weather, she takes on a more varied palette of song – Duke Ellington, Traffic, Morrissey – with a guest list that includes – mwah! – Rufus Wainwright, Antony Hegarty and Keith Richards. The most important names, though, belong to a band that delivers a well-judged blend of rock muscle, jazz invention and symphonic grace, framing Faithfull's ravaged voice with more sympathy than it perhaps deserves.
If you can judge a legend's reputation by the company she keeps, then 62-year-old Marianne Faithfull is in fine fettle: here, her guests include Nick Cave, Keith Richards, Rufus Wainwright and Antony. Weighing in at 18 tracks, culled from the Great American Songbook and the indie blogosphere alike, this Hal Willner-produced covers album (a kind of sequel to 1987's Strange Weather) is too baggy and diffuse to hold the attention, but Faithfull's formidable croak can really worm its way under a song's skin, whether it's the desperate grief of Dolly Parton's Down from Dover or the Weimar doom of Randy Newman's In Germany Before the War. Songs by the Decemberists and Judee Sill also emerge stark and strong.
The Hal Willner-produced Easy Come Easy Go isn't all-star nostalgia. Rather, it places Marianne Faithfull in a cultural context. Neko Case's "Hold On Hold On," redone as a duet with Chan Marshall, reminds us of Faithfull's influence on Case, Marshall, and a whole generation of women and musicians who came of age on 1960s/1970s/1980s rock & roll. The songs are also cyclical: Espers' psych-folk "Children of Stone" and Brian Eno's dreamy "How Many Worlds" are decades apart yet completely malleable under Faithfull's gaze.