Marianne Faithfull’s still only 71, but anyone who saw her touring recently will be aware of her ailments. She spends much of each show sitting regally in a throne-like chair, leaning heavily on a cane when upright, and one only need compare the fragile version here of As Tears Go By with her 1964 original to hear the effect a well-lived life’s had on her vocals. Perhaps this is why she’s revisited the song: “It is,” one might say bluntly of her time on Earth, “the evening of the day”.

It’s Faithfull’s fearless acknowledgement of this, though, that makes her 21st album so special. Like Johnny Cash’s final works, Negative Capability is full of vulnerability and acceptance, whether she’s declaring that “to die a good death is my dream” on piano ballad Born To Live, or conceding, in her crumpled voice, that: “It’s taken me a long time to learn/ In fact, my whole life so far” on In My Own Particular Way, a more ornate number suitable for the likes of Nick Cave. He, uncoincidentally, turns up nobly on The Gypsy Faerie Queen, while his Bad Seed colleague Warren Ellis, PJ Harvey stalwart Rob Ellis and Ed Harcourt ensure her backing maintains suitable gravity. It’s a deathly serious experience, and meticulously noble.

Review: Marianne Faithfull - Negative Capability

Written by Wyndham Wallace. Released on BMG.


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