3.29.2009

faithfull.



i don't really have the expertise to contextualize or articulate my experience of music in an intelligent way. if i did, i would have written a great deal after seeing performances by Kronos Quartet and The Books several weeks ago. The two nights of performances were... sublime; i was shaken to the core.


so it may seem odd that i intend to give pause and offer a light review of a recently released album in the US. Marianne Faithfull, of Rolling Stones + Mick Jagger fame, has created a record of covers entitled Easy Come, Easy Go. Faithfull is a medium of experience unto herself in my life; i have found her to fill in the gaps between other inspirations and stimuli. For example, she accompanied the quixotic androgyne Patrick Wolf on one of his songs in the album The Magic Position (and in fact, it was this song that brought his record into my sphere to begin with). Not long after, I became aware that she also portrayed Maria Teresa, Marie Antoinette's mother, Queen of Austria in Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.


she also appears in the 2006 Paris, je t'aime. She is a fashion and cultural lodestone, an icon of infamy, persistence, addictions... she is the broken spirit, and this is present in whatever her voice is applied to. I should note that anything i write here will only be secondary to what Faithfull herself says in an interview in the current issue of Interview magazine. Plumbing her own motives for the songs collected in this project, Faithfull discusses one of the persistent issues in many artists' creative process- living, defining, and embedding one's life story into one's work. (and the implication is that we try to do this without being ostentatious in the process).



As I say, Easy Come, Easy Go is comprised of twelve covers. Faithfull explains her need for a break from writing in her music. It is also such a beautiful task to locate one's passions in other pieces. I imagine for a musician, singing a number of covers is similar to an artist being invited to curate an exhibition. Other art expresses the information on your behalf.
This album shines with a similar brilliance as Cat Power's Jukebox album from last year. Some of the choices are surprising, such as the opening track, a song by Dolly Parton ( ! ). A number of well known, accomplished guests join her on different tracks, and Faithfull's rendition of Smokey Robinson's "Ooh Baby Baby" would no doubt be a completely different creature without the accompaniment of Antony Hegarty. Together, they become a two-headed Nina Simone, crooning and elliciting woody, raked chirrups. Hearing Marianne Faithfull's offering of the Neko Case song "Hold On, Hold On," gives the lyrics new depth and leverage than I've ever fully appreciated: "It's the devil I love... and that's as funny as real love... and that's as real as true love." -sigh-


By far, the absolute charmer for me in this album is the cover of The Decemberists' "The Crane Wife 3." Again, the lyrics wrap easily around Faithfull's own biography so that the fable that is told seems less fantastic and unrealistic; absolutely possible. Accompanied by Nick Cave, this is a heartrending piece with expansive ache spilling out between voice and instruments.



and here is where I am least sufficient in praising this album. Many of the tracks have spacious interludes for guitar that sizzle with complexity and twang in the right spots. I could listen to just the instrumental interludes and feel a rapport with marianne faithfull's vocal effects.


i picked up this album at Shake It. When you hear it, we should talk about it more.

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