Home Read Marianne Faithfull | Negative Capability: Six Positive Thoughts

Marianne Faithfull | Negative Capability: Six Positive Thoughts

The veteran British singer-songwriter returns with her 21st studio release.

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1 | There aren’t many artists who can still deliver the goods at age 71 — especially when they’ve been through everything Marianne Faithfull has. But even though she hasn’t had a hit in years, she’s been quietly making great albums. So if anybody can pull it off, it’s her.

2 | Is it really possible her voice is getting better as she ages? It certainly doesn’t sound nearly as ragged as it did in her Broken English days — or even 20 years ago. Then again, maybe the more subdued and intimate nature of this material just hides it better.

3 | Any album that includes a track co-written by old pal and returning collaborator Nick Cave — who also supplies backup vocals on Gypsy Faerie Queen — is an album worth hearing. Songwriting contributions by Mark Lanegan (the ominous electro-blues They Come At Night) and Ed Harcourt don’t hurt either.

4 | Some of these lyrics pull no punches: “I know I’m not young and I’m damaged,” she admits on the lovelorn In My Own Particular Way. “To die a good death is my dream,” she claims in the piano ballad Born to Live. “You’ll never be as lonely as me,” she challenges on Loneliest Person. “They return, the Nazis, every 70 years,” she theorizes on They Come at Night, inspired by the Paris terror attacks. Easy listening this is not.

5 | You have to give Faithfull credit for having the guts to go back to re-do her 1964 breakout song and signature hit As Tears Go By — and more points for turning it into an elegantly grim ballad about aging without changing a single word. For those keeping score at home, she also reworks Broken English‘s Witches’ Song and her cover of Bob Dylan‘s It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.

6 | Dark and ballad-heavy, this album — her 21st studio release — might not stand as her strongest and most focused work. But make no mistake: Her capability is definitely not in question.