sat 08/05/2021

Album: Marianne Faithfull & Warren Ellis - She Walks in Beauty | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Marianne Faithfull & Warren Ellis - She Walks in Beauty

Album: Marianne Faithfull & Warren Ellis - She Walks in Beauty

Everyone’s favourite Nan crashes the goth poetry club

Grande Dame of Bohemianism intones some of the greatest hits of the original goths

Let’s get this clear from the off, Marianne Faithfull and Warren Ellis’s new album is not an artistic statement on a par with her classic 1979 album Broken English. Nor I suspect, was that ever the aim.

Let’s get this clear from the off, Marianne Faithfull and Warren Ellis’s new album is not an artistic statement on a par with her classic 1979 album Broken English. Nor I suspect, was that ever the aim. Instead, it’s a vanity project that consists of Marianne reciting a collection of work from the English Romantic poets of the early 19th century while Ellis and a few of his famous mates noodle pleasantly in the background. This isn’t to say that it isn’t a perfectly satisfying listen. It’s just not an artistic landmark and is more likely to soundtrack occasional moments in time rather than to become a turntable regular.

Marianne Faithfull is now 74 years old and her voice has all the gravitas of a Grande Dame of Bohemianism as she intones some of the greatest hits of the original goths. Things kick off with Lord Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty” and Warren Ellis lays down a light minimalist melody in the background that fits the mood well. On Thomas Hood’s “The Bridge of Sighs” and throughout the album, Nick Cave adds a sparse piano and elsewhere, Brain Eno injects atmospheric tones while Vincent Ségal brings his tasteful cello sounds to the likes of Wordsworth’s “Prelude”. Needless to say, Marianne also turns her attention to Shelley’s “Ozymandias”, which remains as relevant as it ever was in deconstructing the empty hubris of our political leaders.

“She Walks in Beauty” could have ended up an unfinished final recording by Marianne, as she was felled by Covid-19 early into the project and spent a period recovering in hospital. However, she’s proved herself to be a tough old boot more than once in the past and she was soon back to complete her bit. Indeed, as she recites from Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” – “Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird!”

More likely to soundtrack occasional moments in time rather than to become a turntable regular

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