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CD Review: Marianne Faithfull

Easy Come Easy Go (Decca)

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From wispy '60s pop chanteuse to melancholy new-wave observer to world-weary techno-cabaret singer, Marianne Faithfull has survived and thrived in high style on her own terms. Her dark, dusky voice bears all the scars of her early dissipated path, and she continues to use her remarkable instrument in combination with an almost supernatural ability to inhabit the work of any songwriter. Faithfull's 22nd album, Easy Come Easy Go, is a covers record, following 2005's Before the Poison, her brilliant collaboration with Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and Jon Brion. With longtime producer/collaborator Hal Willner and a who's-who guest list, Faithfull tackles a typically broad range of material — from the smoky shiver of Billie Holiday's "Solitude" to her wonderfully twisted take on Smokey Robinson's "Ooh Baby Baby," a duet with the otherworldly Antony Hegarty. Just as typically, Faithfull's high points are numerous, from a jazzy spin on Dolly Parton's "Down From Dover" to a blazing version of the Decemberists' "The Crane Wife 3" with old pal Nick Cave to the authentic '20s blues on the Bessie Smith title track. Two standouts deserve attention. Faithfull absolutely owns Neko Case's "Hold On Hold On," a song Case could have written about Faithfull ("In the end, I was a mean girl/Or somebody's in-between girl/And it's the devil I love/And that's as funny as real love") and her achingly stripped-down take on Merle Haggard's death-row ode "Sing Me Back Home," a poignant duet with one-time paramour Keith Richards. Easy Come Easy Go showcases Faithfull's talent for living in a perfect musical moment that channels the past without dwelling on it and looking to the future with hope, not envy. — Baker

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