3 November 2018

Marianne Faithfull - Negative Capability


There is an argument (rightly or wrongly) that says this album shouldn't really exist.  The story of singer/artist/muse/socialite Marianne Faithfull has been retold many times over, so to tell it once more would be waste of time.  However, let's just say that there is a lot of people who are happy to hear that there is a new Marianne Faithfull released.  Following on from Give My Love to London, Negative Capability is her twenty-first studio album.  Whilst I've heard a few albums by Ms Faithfull over the years, I wouldn't count myself as a fan.  So, why am I reviewing this?

Well, it's down to the producers and guests on this album.  Produced by Rob and Warren Ellis (not sure if they're related or not), as well as the guest appearances of Nick Cave, Ed Harcourt and Mark Lanegan.  That quartet of people would have me listening to a Beady Eye album if they contributed to it, which is meant as no disrespect to Marianne Faithfull.  Produced over the course of three years, Negative Capability has been a long time coming.  Some of my friends have been feverishly awaiting its release, and to be honest, I've been interested in it as well.

Now, when you're listening to Negative Capability, you have to put aside the past to a certain extent.  Ms Faithfull's voice is not the same as that in her youth, the years have changed her range and it's a raspy whisper, with a Leonard Cohen vibe to it.  Getting past that might be a stumbling block for some people, but I would recommend persisting with it.  Because there are some beautifully fragile moments on this album.

Negative Capability is a mixture of new songs with some reinterpretations of old favourites.  It's designed to bring fans old and new to the folk, along with the knowledgeable and curious.  Songs such as "The Gypsy Fairy Queen", "Witches Song" and "In My Own Particular Way" are gentle numbers which have a graceful charm about them.  "They Come At Night", wrote about the Parisian attacks which was written by Mark Lanegan is a standout moment, together with "The Gypsy Fairy Queen".  This is an album to relax to, one which you relax to and absorb its stories and talented cast of musicians.


If you're looking for an over-excited album, one with flashes of noise and guitar solos, then you've come to the wrong place.  This is one of the most chilled recordings that I've listened to this year.  Musically, it's a beautiful record, one which I appreciate for its talent and passion behind the project.  Negative Capability is obviously a labour of love for everyone involved, one that they'll rightly view with pride.  Whilst I probably won't reach for it as often as I should, it's been a pleasure to listen to and I would recommend it to any fan of Marianne Faithfull or the quieter (but vibrant) end of the musical spectrum.

7.5 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - They Come At Night

You can purchase Negative Capability on Amazon here.


You can visit the Marianne Faithfull website here.

You can follow the activities of Marianne Faithfull on her official Facebook page here.

You can stream Negative Capability on Spotify here.

You can stream Negative Capability on Deezer here. 

You can stream Negative Capability on Tidal here.

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