Highlights: Give My Love To London, True Lies, Late Victorian Holocaust, Deep Water, Mother Wolf
Either my expectations have gone to the fucking dogs or this is Marianne Faithfull’s greatest album and, as such, one of the best albums of 2014. Here’s the idea. This is not an album of Mick Jagger’s ex-girlfriend. This is an album of someone who co-wrote “Sister Morphine”.
Over the course of these exceptional 11 songs Marianne barely puts one foot wrong. The songs are excellent and while her voice is on a clear Dylanesque trajectory (she does sound a lot like him on the title track), the performances are stylish and affecting. As expected, she does a few covers (Leonard Cohen’s “Going Home” is just so effortlessly brilliant), but most of these songs were co-written by Marianne herself. There are collaborations with Nick Cave (wistful “Deep Water”), Steve Earle (bouncy “Give My Love To London”), Anna Calvi (glorious “Falling Back”), and each time we have a songwriting/performing masterclass.
The two standouts are Cave’s “Late Victorian Holocaust” (the haunting violin, the quietly pounding piano), which comes close to the emotional devastation once conjured up by Alex Chilton, and the dramatic and slightly unsettling “Mother Wolf” with this album’s most edgy lyrics.
Backing musicians: Warren Ellis, Mick Jones, Rob Ellis… You are in good hands. So what can you say really. Impeccable stuff. All style and great songwriting. Give My Love To London is a top ten record for 2014, easily.