Marianne Faithfull with Warren Ellis
She Walks in Beauty
The latest collaboration between iconic singer-songwriter Marianne Faithfull and versatile multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis is a fulfilment of Faithfull’s long-held ambition to put the words of the Romantic poets to music. If that sounds like a lofty premise that’s because, well, it is. But like the poetry that inspired it, She Walks in Beauty has a whole world to offer the listener, and you don’t have to be an Oxford scholar to appreciate it.
She Walks in Beauty sounds gorgeous. Ellis is working in a more reflective mode here than the brutal sounds of Carnage, his collaboration with Nick Cave that came out in March. His understated ambience provides the perfect canvas for Faithfull to paint on with her enigmatic vocal style. That said, there are times when the album struggles to become more than the sum of its parts. Given the calibre of the artists and material involved, the album’s concept sets the bar extremely high, and there are moments on the record where it feels just out of reach.
The fact that Faithful is still recovering after contracting Covid-19 during the recording of this album imbues her performance with a new layer of meaning. Every word she speaks is a hard-won affirmation of life and beauty, and a rejection of death. The Romantics would most certainly approve.
Words: Joe Joyce
Like This? Try These:
Ghost Box – SUSS
Ambient 1: Music for Airports – Brian Eno
Broken English – Marianne Faithfull