Marianne Faithfull: Negative Capability review – up there with Cohen and Cash


Recorded in Paris with Bad Seed Warren Ellis and PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis, who back her with unshowy, sympathetic orchestration, Marianne Faithfull’s 21st album is a masterly meditation on ageing and death. Coming in the wake of health problems, struggles with loneliness and the loss of some of her closest friends, her lyrics are characteristially unflinching, from In My Own Particular Way’s admission that “I know I’m not young and I’m damaged/ But I’m still pretty kind of funny” to Born to Live’s tribute to Anita Pallenberg and the unbearably raw Don’t Go, about the death from cancer of her former guitarist Martin Stone.

There’s a foray into wider global events too: They Come at Night, a Mark Lanegan co-write, is a furious reaction to the Bataclan terror attack of 2015. Faithfull’s reprise of As Tears Go By, 54 years after her version of the Jagger/Richards/Oldham song launched her career, has a real poignancy, the line “It is the evening of the day” in particular carrying a new-found emotional heft.

Comparisons with such late-career highlights as Johnny Cash’s American Recordings albums and Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker are inevitable, but Negative Capability really does belong in such exalted company.

Marianne Faithfull: The Gypsy Faerie Queen ft. Nick Cave – video


Phil Mongredien

The GuardianTramp

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