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Stirring and soulful,
This review is from: Horses And High Heels (Audio CD)
Hal Wilner has done a spectacular production job on these quality songs, enabling Marianne to make the most of her familiar styles and successfully navigate some new ones.
There are mournful songs of resignation, some with eerie undertone.
The solemn, brooding track The Stations with its chiming guitars opens the album on a note of unease as a narrative of addiction, anguish and dread unfolds.
Those magnificent chimes return to blast jangling showers of doom over the arresting imagery of That's How Every Empire Falls. What a magnificent arrangement for this great song.
This introspection and melancholia of Goin' Back dips into the spooky sometimes on this downtempo slice of nostalgia with its affirmation, "I'll live my days instead of counting my years", and is embellished by tuba touches and what sounds like faraway trumpets.
A tone of redemption lifts the subdued, torchy Love Song out of the prevailing bleak mood of its spare backing and wails of weeping guitar.
Hard to place stylistically, the half-spoken delivery of Past, Present and Future is reminiscent of After The Ceasefire on Vagabond Ways. Cello, violin and harp stand out on a grand orchestral arrangement.
And there are uptempo tracks in the soul/rock/boogie tradition.
The funky feel of the gently swaying Gee Baby makes for a charming interpretation, whilst electric guitars roar and pianos roll on the lively and rhythmic No Reason, a fine piece of southern rock boogie. The lead vocal remains far back in the mix of its powerful wall of sound.
The soulful Back In Baby's Arms is a tour de force with stirring organ and backing vocals, Lou Reed on guitar and shimmering strings, harp, woodwind and piano creating almost a vintage Stax or Atlantic sound.
Then the grand ballads, tinged with country and often graced with snippets of autobiography.
Lap steel, banjo and mandolin lend a marked country flavor to the lament Why Did We Have To Part, whilst the title track - flashbacks of Dublin and Paris - boasts a bluesy guitar which brings to mind Gary Moore on Parisienne Walkways.
In the same groove, a tolling bell opens The Old House that builds up from a stately beginning to blistering guitars in which Lou Reed plays a part.
There's an African timbre to the captivating, buoyant Eternity, thanks to joujouka samples and a mantric vocal effect: "jump for joy, shake with fear, this is an everlasting year, count the changes coming near, eternity is here'.
Finally, poetry in motion.
The sublime Prussian Blue - another one co-written by Marianne - is a masterpiece where jangling guitars, soulful organ and striking vocals come together in perfect flow. Like those melodious uptempo ballads on her early 1980s work, this inspiring song stays with you long after the last note has faded.