Marianne Faithfull – Negative Capability review

Secret Meeting score: 86

by Mark Jackson

Negative Capability is Marianne Faithfull’s 21st studio album and comes a mammoth 54 years after her debut release – the Jagger/Richards penned single As Tears Go By. A track revisited here by Faithfull, who transfers the sum of her last half century into a strained, wiry yet enchanting and aged vocal.

At 71 years of age, Faithfull delivers a wise, weary and at times knowingly humorous reflection on love and life, while also staring down the realities of old age, waning heath and death – “I know I’m not young and I’m damaged, but I’m still pretty, kind of funny” she sings on the Ed Harcourt/Warren Ellis/Rob Mcvey co-write, My Own Particular Way. Similarly, there is an elegant charm that runs throughout the album despite its often-heavy themes of loss and loneliness.

Faithfull beautifully masters a life and career reflection, drawing similarities with Johnny Cash’s Rick Rubin produced American series.  Here also, the choice of production and collaboration team is exquisite – Warren Ellis and Rob Ellis constructing a balladry synonymous at times with the laments of usual leads Nick Cave and PJ Harvey. In fact, it is Nick Cave himself who features on perhaps Negative Capabilities’ standout track- the Cave/Faithfull co-write, The Gypsy Faerie Queen. A song that casts a lavish scope and tender expression of loyalty and devotion.

Negative Capability is at times a haunting listen, but one feels that its creation has been a cathartic process for Faithfull to offload her unique lifelong experiences- from teen stardom to heroin addict, and A-list romances to heart aching loneliness – all construed through a late in life meditation. Although at times appearing to be a signing off, or final-foray, there is a warmth and passion to Negative Capability that means it will be an essential listen for new and existing fans for many decades to come.

Want to keep up to date with all our latest pieces? Follow us on social media…