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Sparrows Sing, Marianne Faithfull in 2014

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Marianne Faithful sings of this age as a “candyfloss techno hell” in her “Sparrows will Sing,” a tune written by Roger Waters for Faithfull. It begins with a sound very similar to what we hear from the underground on the platform when the cars come in—and it sounds good.  “Sparrows Will Sing” is actually quite a nod to this generation and its ability to overcome what it was given, complete with the chorus from Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter” out of Alice Through the Looking Glass.  Whatever your interpretation of that nonsense poem from the Victorian era (whether it be Marxist, Buddha and Christ, or some gut sense of it), there are many references to the oysters here.  And that’s what we get with Marianne Faithfull’s Give My Love to London.  It’s a pensive, lyric-heavy album—absolutely one of her best if you are in the mood to think.

Betraying the Oyster

Give My Love to London is close, in artistry, to 1979’s Broken English, though the music is not of any particular era while Broken English had that late 70s-early 80s accompaniment. And speaking of that incredible album from 1979, 2014’s “Mother Wolf” is as close as Faithfull has come since to the affronting “Why D’ya Do It.” “Mother Wolf” lacks some of the shock value, but it is one hell of a lyric and is about the same sort of issues that “Sparrows Will Sing” is.  “True Lies” is, as is “Mother Wolf,” written by Faithfull and has that acerbic attitude and diction she is most appreciated for.  Her covers, such as “Sparrows Will Sing” and Nick Cave’s brilliant “Late Victorian Holocaust,” are a step above the recent compunction of some artists to churn out covers for one reason or another.  These are part of the album, part of the spirit of one thing.

When Great Minds Get Together

Her several collaborations, such as “Deep Water” with Nick Cave, help bring these elements together and the result is—dare we say it—one of her best albums ever and certainly her most mature and considered one.  It would have been impossible to foretell this album from viewing the young woman who shyly sang “As Tears Go By” in 1964 when she covered that Rolling Stones song.  

Her best works have been her collaborations and this entire album is a wonderful collaboration with artists ranging from new-Londoner Steve Earle, through Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley to The Bad Seeds and beyond, including the excellent Cohen-Leonard "Going Home."  There’s respect in both directions and the result is a great 2014 album, which proves you can sing both shyly and boldly for at least fifty years!


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