Negative Capability is Marianne Faithfull’s 21st album and the most emotionally powerful of her 54-year recording career. Facing down arthritis and bolstered by collaborators including Warren Ellis, Nick Cave, Rob Ellis, Ed Harcourt and Mark Lanegan, Negative Capability is charged with brutal honesty and autobiographical reflection as she addresses losing old friends, her loneliness living in her adopted city of Paris, and love. Driven by her supernatural reinterpretative skills, florid lyricism, battle against the pain she lives with, and realised with her stellar group of musicians, Negative Capability is Marianne’s unflinchingly honest and relentlessly beautiful late-life masterpiece. The stark emotional heft, exquisitely framed by ornately sensitive musical backdrops can only be likened to the late-life works by Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen.
The record emphasises her unique place as a force of nature in the beating heart of modern music that started opening up after Sister Morphine ignited her muse and was recorded by the Rolling Stones nearly fifty years ago. At that time she had enjoyed her pop career with hits such as Come And Stay With Me and This Little Bird, before becoming the crown princess of the UK counterculture before grasping her artistic reins with the landmark Broken English in 1979.
Recorded at La Frette studio on the outskirts of Paris, Negative Capability is inexorably overshadowed by grief at losing close friends from the ‘60s such as Anita Pallenberg, Martin Stone and Cream album designer Martin Sharp. It’s produced by both Rob Ellis – the PJ Harvey producer who’s been Marianne’s collaborator for five years -and Warren Ellis from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Warren’s violin blesses songs such as Misunderstanding and Born To Live – her intensely moving eulogy to departed lifelong friend Anita - with the stark but lustrous autumnal beauty that makes the album.