Marianne Faithfull : She Walks In Beauty : Album Review

Marianne Faithfull with Warren Ellis : She Walks in Beauty: 2021

BMG Records

This is a beautiful little package so in the video I will go through it so you can see it yourself.

This is really a poetry book which comes with a CD. It has been put together with a lot of thought and attention to detail.  The paintings by Colin Self are just gorgeous. The poetry is printed on the other side of the paintings and works really well. If you’re a collector of really well designed, CD packages this will be right up your street.

As much as it is a musical release it would not be out of place in Waterstones.  The music is written and composed by Warren Ellis and also features Nick Cave on Piano and Brain Eno also appears on a couple of the tracks.

The album was recorded just before and during the first Covid-19 lockdown – during which Marianne Faithfull herself became infected and almost died of the disease.

She was halfway through recording the album when she fell ill so there is a feeling that the tracks she did after recovering carry a sense of personal mortality. This album means a lot to her and this really come across.

The album draws on her passion for the English Romantic poets, a passion she fostered in her A Level studies at St Joseph’s Convent School in Reading. Her career took off as she met Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. In the late 1970s she became a successful artist with Broken English, an album that featured her setting to music Heathcote Williams’ poem of eviscerating rage, Why D’Ya Do It? 

So as I have mentioned the physical product gets 10/10 as it shows exactly what streaming cannot give you. This really is something to sit down with a glass of wine and follow the words as Marianne reads them out.

On many levels, the music and words work really well especially on tracks like Bridge of Sighs but on others like The Lady of Shallot, where there are a lot of verses it can feel a bit one dimensional. I feel it would have benefitted from being broken up with some more instrumentation and especially some acoustic instruments such as Violin, Cello or piano.

For example on the track The Prelude there is a violin solo that starts to emerge towards the end and I felt that this could have really just carried on for a lot longer. Having more classical instruments on the longer works would have added to the atmosphere that Marion Faithful is creating,

This is an album that works as a music project and as a book.

Warren Ellis who composed music says about the Poetry picked for the album “They’ve been with Marianne her whole life,” “She believes in these texts. That world, she inhabits it, embodies it, and that really comes through. She really means it. It’s no blind reading. And what’s great about hearing them is that she totally takes you with her. It’s inclusive. She’s inviting you into this world with her. She does that with a song too. I’ve seen her do things in the studio, deliver a vocal where there’s not one dry eye in the room. And then she’d go, ‘Was that alright?’. She’s got one of those voices. There’s just something about the way she can deliver that is incredibly affecting.” 

1 She Walks in Beauty (Lord Byron)
2 The Bridge of Sighs (Thomas Hood)
3 La Belle Dame sans Merci (John Keats)
4 Ode to a Nightingale (John Keats)
5 To Autumn (John Keats)
6 Ozymandias (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
7 The Prelude: Book One Introduction (William Wordsworth)
8 Surprised by Joy (William Wordsworth)
9 To The Moon (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
10 So We’ll Go No More a Roving (Lord Byron)
11 The Lady of Shallot (Lord Alfred Tennyson)

Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine

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