Faithfull's backing band is faultless and impressively multi-faceted to a man.
Michael Quinn 2009-03-12
Let’s be honest: she can’t hold a tune, she misses notes by a musical mile and her voice is as cracked as an eggshell under foot, but that doesn’t stop Marianne Faithfull making fabulous records.
Easy Come, Easy Go isn't an instant Faithfull classic. Broken English it ain't. Nor does it get disconcertingly under the skin in the way Strange Weather did. But in the breadth of material on offer, in Faithfull's signature way with a song, and in Hal Willner's pointed and eclectically elegant production it gets pretty close, exerting its own peculiar fascination along the way.
In her 19th studio album, the first since 2005's fatalistic, 9/11-influenced Before the Poison, Faithfull's emotional palette is gloriously wide, her re-minting of lyric and music both razor-sharp and refreshing, her distinctive vocal stamp its own inimitable hallmark. An acquired taste for the unaccustomed ear she may be, but Faithfull's prowess with a lyric is second to none.
Ample evidence of such is to be found in both versions of Easy Come, Easy Go – a ten-track standard release and a deluxe 18-track, two disc version complete with a 30-minute DVD documentary on the album's making featuring interviews with Willner and Faithfull herself.
Curiosity-seekers and completists of many hues will want to investigate these covers of songs by the likes of Dolly Parton (whose Down From Dover proves a blinding sit-up-and-pay-attention opener), Duke Ellington, Morrissey and Brian Eno. No less of a draw is the heady prospect of guest vocals from Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker, Keith Richards and others.
Cocker's contribution to West Side Story's Somewhere is one of the disc's few disappointments (the calculated poise of Ellington's Solitude also fails to convince), the former Pulp frontman's asthmatic delivery wholly off-putting. At the opposite extreme are Antony (he of The Johnsons) on Smokey Robinson's Ooh Baby Baby, a bluesy and deliriously overblown, gloriously anthemic concoction; Rufus Wainwright's liquescently fey way with the psych-folk of Espers' Children of Stone; and Keith Richards plaintively underplayed take on Merle Haggard's Sing Me Back Home.
Boasting Marc Ribot, Jim White, Warren Ellis and Sean Lennon in its midst, Faithfull's backing band is faultless and impressively multi-faceted to a man.