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Marianne Faithfull with Warren Ellis - She Walks in Beauty

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 5 / 7 / 2021

Marianne Faithfull with Warren Ellis - She Walks in Beauty
Label: BMG
Format: CD


Haunting latest album from Marianne Faithfull which she has recorded with the Bad Seeds’ Warren Ellis and which combines readings of Romantic poetry with sound collages

I first encountered Marianne Faithfull in the 1960s when she was a friend of a schoolmate's elder sister. Both girls attended St Joseph's Convent School – a Catholic girls' grammar school in the leafy suburbs of Reading. Even then, Marianne was strikingly beautiful and clearly gifted. She was exceptionally erudite for her young years and a talented poet and actress who many then expected would have a long and distinguished career in the serious theatre. Of course things worked out rather differently. She married an art gallery owner when still very young, met the Rolling Stones and released some successful single songs quickly becoming involved in a high profile relationship with Mick Jagger and subsequently she battled drug and other addictions over many years. In 2020, aged 73, she contracted Covid-19 but has managed to fight that off, too. Now Marianne has released a new album ‘She Walks In Beauty’ with collaborator Warren Ellis. The record is in parts almost like an audiobook. This format suits her now husky voice and Marianne includes weighty readings of Romantic poetry with sound collages reminiscent of Warren Ellis's previous soundtrack work. The album's mood is contemplative, with some of the poems raspy ruminations on mortality. Wordworth's ‘Surprised By Joy’ is an evocation of grief over the death of a child whilst Byron's ‘So We'll Go No More A Roving’ is a lament for lost youth that Marianne likens to a blues number. Nick Cave helps out by adding piano to Keats's “To Autumn” whilst Marianne has included Tennyson's ‘Lady of Shalott’ which contains the line 'It was the closing of the day' that Mick Jagger would borrow when penning Marianne's first hit single, ‘As Tears Go By’. Throughout, Warren Ellis's mix of regular instruments and “electronic things” is a perfect foil for Marianne's performance. As Warren Ellis has commented, “This new album is no mere gimmicky re-imagining of classic literature - because Marianne truly takes you with her through the record's magical journey. She has a unique gift for reinterpreting fine words, a real and rare dramatic talent.” Some of us knew that over five decades ago. ‘She Walks In Beauty’ simply confirms that Marianne Faithfull has not lost that remarkable ability, despite all the turmoil and real-life drama she has faced through her 74 hard-lived years.

Track Listing:-
1 She Walks in Beauty
2 The Bridge of Sighs
3 La Belle Dame sans Merci
4 Ode to a Nightingale
5 To Autumn
6 Ozymandias
7 The Prelude: Book One Introduction
8 Surprised by Joy
9 To the Moon
10 So We'll Go No More a Roving
11 The Lady of Shallot

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