on 19 April 2011
Marianne never ceases to amaze nor does she ever disappoint. This is only her 19th album in a career that's now spanned 47 years and is I think her very best. It took a few listens to settle in but when it did it's like I always knew the songs. Her voice is totally unique and she has a knack of making old songs sound like they were made for her.
Of the thirteen tracks seven are new songs and six covers of classics from the '60's. Two of the covers are the Shangri-Las 'Past, Present & Future' and 'Goin' Back' which was a hit for Dusty Springfield. Both are now sung from the perspective of a much older woman who sadly acknowledges the passing of time. Marianne puts her boots on for a stomping version of Jackie Lomax's 'No Reasons' and her take on the late Lesley Duncan's 'Love Song' is breathtaking.
Marianne co-wrote four of the new songs. 'Horses And High Heels' which mentions places where she has lived. 'Prussian Blue' with it's great but simple key changes, the haunting 'Why Did We Have To Part' and 'Eternity'. The final track 'The Old House', which was especially written for Marianne by Irish playwright Frank McGuiness, conjures up images of ghosts and forgotten memories.
At sixty-four years of age Marianne is still a force to be reckoned with. She doesn't run with the pack, she's well ahead of it.
I have yet to be disappointed by a Marianne Faithfull album, and her 19th, released in 2011, didn't change any of that. She has always had a unique voice, which has obviously altered over time (this great lady of song has long since benefited from whiskey soaked vocals, which are much more hauntingly raspy), but she still sounds like no other singer that I can think of.
'Horses and High Heels' might well never be ranked as one of her best works, but it will surely satisfy fans of her rock/pop recordings. There's also a lot of soul and blues music, with a little jazz thrown in. Despite the many styles, there is a consistent feel of 'New York or London in the 1970s'.
Seven of this thirteen tracks here are cover versions of mostly overlooked 1960s pop songs, whilst the remaining six are originals, some of which Marianne co-wrote herself. In fact, half of the tracks which she did collaborate on are actually my favourites on the album, the simple but beautiful 'Why Did We Have To Part' (which she sings with such conviction, almost like she's performing it for Mick Jagger, who knows?), the stunning 'Prussian Blue', which, like so many of Ms. Faithfull's songs, is best played on a quiet late night, and 'Eternity', which is quite possibly the only happy song the great lady has ever recorded since her '60s chart hey-day.
Out of all the covers, my favourite is decidedly her sublime version of Carol King's 'Goin' Back', and The Shangri-La's 'Past, Present And Future', one of the most beautiful and thought-provoking songs I have ever heard in my life, which takes full advantage of her speaking voice, which has always been full of wonderful expression. Remaining faithful to the original production, Marianne really delivers an authentic stamp on this little number. 'The charming and catchy 60s-isque track 'Gee Baby' could have easily been a hit had it been written during that decade, and 'That’s How Every Empire Falls', with it's arresting imagery, is another highlight. Things end out with the truly haunting 'The Old House', which carries one of her best vocals in recent times.
I titled this review as 'Deliciously retro yet contemporary', because that really is the sound of the album. 'Horses and High Heels', featuring a guest appearance on guitar from the late Lou Reed, is a powerful and unique album from an equally powerful and unique lady. Keeping in with the sound, the lovely retro artwork, a painting by famed artist Jim Warren, serves as the front cover of this little gem.
on 26 June 2013
I've liked some of her albums such as Broken English and 20th Century Blues. Her studio albums have generally fantastic musicians on board, with immaculate arragements. And there's no doubt she is sophisticated and charismatic. But most of the songs on this album are pretty ordinary despite this and her voice is not as strong as it was. Love Song is a good track as is Going Back and The Old House is wistfully effective. We've seen her in concert a couple of times in the last ten years and she seems to be better live than in the studio. This album is disappointing though.
on 8 March 2011
High, but deserved praise for the Lady who has given us "North Country Maid", "Broken English", "A Secret Life" and "20th Century Blues" This is a marvelous recording, Hal Willner's inspired production, the varied, yet cohesive song selection added to the fine musicianship of all involved create a treat from start to finish.
I especially enjoy the songs that Marianne co wrote and she is in fine voice throughout. How many musicians from Marianne's generation continue as regularly as she has to make such strong recordings? Richard Thompson, Robert Wyatt and Neil Young come to mind. Cherish Marianne, she is a treasure.
on 27 April 2011
I have followed Marianne for a good many years now, from going through old boxes of records at Wednesbury market and trying to get a picture with her outside the Wolverhampton Civic to more recently 'Kissin Time' 'Easy Come Easy Go'and now 'Horses and High Heels'.
She has remained a credible artist since she the late 70s, she has never been unfashionable because she has never been fashionable, she is an ikon for true music lovers and I have to say on Horses and High Heels her gritty version of 'Goin Back' has to be one of the best versions I have heard.
As with every record Marianne does you can hear the raw emotion.
Great to see her back and definately one for the purists.