Before the Poison

Before the Poison

by Marianne Faithfull
     
 

Possessing one of the most distinctive voices in rock, Marianne Faithfull is the kind of singer who makes songwriters all but drool over the prospect of working with her. She's proven a remarkable foil for many folks over the years, from Mick Jagger to Billy Corgan to Robert Wilson, and this time around, she joins forces with PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, both of whom are… See more details below

Overview

Possessing one of the most distinctive voices in rock, Marianne Faithfull is the kind of singer who makes songwriters all but drool over the prospect of working with her. She's proven a remarkable foil for many folks over the years, from Mick Jagger to Billy Corgan to Robert Wilson, and this time around, she joins forces with PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, both of whom are totally conversant in the language of bleak beauty that Faithfull speaks so fluently. (Other songs are penned by Blur's Damon Albarn and Aimee Mann collaborator Jon Brion.) Harvey, who handles much of the disc's production, puts her imprint on several of the songs, lacing them with the sort of taut guitar lines and white-knuckle mood shifts that mark her own work -- particularly the tense "My Friends Have." Cave, on the other hand, seems eager to defer to Faithfull, accentuating her bruised delivery with raw, windswept austerity (on "There Is a Ghost") or sheer sonic bedlam (the edge-of-sanity chantey "Desperanto"), with musical muscle provided by most of the Bad Seeds. These two tunes gain added heft from Hal Willner's production, which draws out the singer's torchier tendencies without egging her on to full-on cabaret moments. As is her wont, Faithfull switches gears completely toward the end, throwing open the otherwise hermetically sealed environment for a performance of Jon Brion's "City of Quartz," which wafts through the air like an urbane lullaby. Poisonous? Perhaps, but what a way to go.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Each time Marianne Faithfull issues a recording, fans and pundits hold their breaths waiting for another outing as iconoclastic as Broken English. Before the Poison isn't it for a number of reasons, quality not being one of them. Simply put, Before the Poison is an album that concerns itself with both sides of love, friendship, and redemption, not desolation or desperation. That said, there is plenty of human shadow in these ten songs. Polly Harvey wrote three songs here, co-wrote a pair with Faithfull, and is present on all of them. Nick Cave co-wrote three with the singer and his Bad Seeds back her on these tracks. She also co-wrote one apiece with Blur's Damon Albarn and composer Jon Brion. Along with Harvey and Cave, Rob Ellis and Hal Willner aided in production. Therefore, Before the Poison, like its predecessor, Kissin' Time, is an album of collaborations. But unlike that offering, this one is seamless; its songs are sequenced impeccably and all feel of a piece linked by emotional thematics. Harvey's songs are all moving and beautiful. Faithfull's reading of "No Child of Mine," a track that appeared on PJ's own last album, Uh Huh Her, has more depth and texture than the original. Harvey is pushing it on, underneath, her signature guitar sound ushering in each line as Faithfull -- in fantastic voice throughout -- does a call and response with herself until the refrain, when Harvey harmonizes and adds dimension to the stark loss and resignation uttered with great empathy and even tenderness. On "The Mystery of Love," which opens the set, Faithfull brings the weight of her life experience to Harvey's poetic lyric and opens its fathomless heart. On Cave's "Crazy Love," the lyric could have accompanied the footage in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire. As Faithfull paints the skeletal portraits of the song's protagonists who move around the chessboard of life, she gets to the refrain where the tune splits wide and, as Warren Ellis' raggedly elegant violin sweeps above the rest, the singers offers a poetic truth from her own life: "Crazy love is all around me/Love is crazy, love is kind/But I know somehow you'll find me/Love is crazy, love is blind." On Albarn's "Last Song," possibility has passed into memory amid the swell of strings, tambourines, and acoustic pianos. It's a devastating track, and Faithfull sings with an authority that can only be borne by a witness. The disc closes with "City of Quartz," written with Brion. It's a fractured, slightly off-kilter waltz that could have easily appeared on Blazing Away or even as an outtake from 20th Century Blues. The notion of time's passage is in the present tense here, as strings enter amid the chimes underscoring longing, and the acceptance of human need. Before the Poison is poetic and unnerving; it stands alone in her catalog in the same way that Broken English did -- but this time, on the other side of the mirror.

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Product Details

Release Date:
01/25/2005
Label:
Anti
UPC:
0045778673223
catalogNumber:
86732
Rank:
185131

Related Subjects

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Marianne Faithfull   Primary Artist,Vocals,Hand Clapping
PJ Harvey   Synthesizer,Bass,Guitar,Piano,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Hand Clapping,Slide Bass
Adrian Utley   Synthesizer,Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Bass Guitar,Electric Guitar,Sampling,Toy Piano
Rob Ellis   Percussion,Piano,Drums,Glockenspiel,Hand Clapping,Vibes
Andy Nice   Cello
Diana Gutkind   Piano
Catherine Browning   Violin
Luigi DUrso   Handwriting

Technical Credits

Nick Cave   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Marianne Faithfull   Composer
PJ Harvey   Composer,Producer
Damon Albarn   Composer
Jon Brion   Composer
Martyn Casey   Engineer
Warren Ellis   Engineer
Hal Willner   Producer
John Dent   Mastering
William Lee Self   Liner Notes
Rob Ellis   Sound Effects,Producer,String Arrangements
Rik Simpson   Engineer
Takeo Komatsuzaki   Liner Notes
James Sclavunos   Engineer

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