Album: Marianne Faithfull

Before the Poison, NAIVE
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The Independent Culture

For the second album in a row, Marianne Faithfull opts to collaborate with a younger generation of musicians. But the guests in question are rather more appropriate than on the patchy Kissin' Time, the likes of Nick Cave and Polly Harvey being cut from similarly rebellious, mordant cloth as the grande dame of rock'n'roll debauchery. Indeed, the weary fin-de-siècle resignation she brings to Harvey's songs lends them an authentically worldly tone, which Harvey herself sometimes struggles to achieve. It's not simply that Faithfull is old enough to carry off the role of the mother casting her son out into the world in "No Child of Mine"; it's the way she makes the impending loneliness in "The Mystery of Love" seem more like a return to her natural state than a threatening prospect. Apart from the ill-advised rap about "the language of despair" in "Desperanto", the songs co-written with Cave are better still, profiting as they do from Hal Willner's production skills and the diverse tal

For the second album in a row, Marianne Faithfull opts to collaborate with a younger generation of musicians. But the guests in question are rather more appropriate than on the patchy Kissin' Time, the likes of Nick Cave and Polly Harvey being cut from similarly rebellious, mordant cloth as the grande dame of rock'n'roll debauchery. Indeed, the weary fin-de-siècle resignation she brings to Harvey's songs lends them an authentically worldly tone, which Harvey herself sometimes struggles to achieve. It's not simply that Faithfull is old enough to carry off the role of the mother casting her son out into the world in "No Child of Mine"; it's the way she makes the impending loneliness in "The Mystery of Love" seem more like a return to her natural state than a threatening prospect. Apart from the ill-advised rap about "the language of despair" in "Desperanto", the songs co-written with Cave are better still, profiting as they do from Hal Willner's production skills and the diverse talents of The Bad Seeds. There's a thrilling sibilance, for instance, to the strings that swarm, wasp-like, around the wracked elegance of her voice on "There Is a Ghost", and Warren Ellis's lachrymose violin solo on "Crazy Love" effortlessly evokes the impression of a rootless personality worn to a smooth acceptance of life's vicissitudes.

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