Marianne Faithfull

Kissin' Time

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

One of the most endearing things about Marianne Faithfull is how well and often she reinvents herself as an artist, all the while remaining true to her rebellious, defiantly independent nature, enduring whatever changes the industry undergoes with her restless, and often reckless, vision intact. Kissin' Time has been billed as Ms. Faithfull's collaboration album because of the appearances and production talents of numerous artists, including Beck, Billy Corgan, Jarvis Cocker, Pulp, Dave Stewart, Blur, etc. The truth of the matter is that this is just the latest installment in a series of collaborations, but one that includes far bigger names from the world of postmodern pop. Ms. Faithfull's 1990s recordings with producer Hal Willner, and collaborations with composer and producer Angelo Badalamenti, were just that. Ms. Faithfull was involved in every part of the recording process. Her collaboration with Peter Trueblood on 20th Century Blues, an album of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht songs was in the most literal sense a cooperative arrangement. If anything, this project, her first new material in three years, is closely linked to her last album, the beautiful and moving Vagabond Ways, produced by Daniel Lanois. There Ms. Faithfull co-wrote all the material on the record and helped to choose the players. Here, she co-wrote most of the material and commissioned all the artists to work with her. The sound on Kissin' Time is thoroughly contemporary, deconstructive pop. That Ms. Faithfull is able to make this set sound as if it were recorded in one studio with one band is a minor miracle; that she can put such searing soul into sonic constructs that are sometimes only marginally "songs" is a major artistic achievement. Faithfull also deserves kudos for maintaining her various collaborators' identities throughout the album. Thus, Beck Hansen signs the dark, frenetic rhythms on "Sex With Strangers" and "Nobody's Fault," with its bluesed out, country lilt. But neither of these songs would have been convincing without Ms. Faithfull's voice carrying them. On "Being Born," another Beck track, the production and pace are pure Leonard Cohen, but Faithfull turns the lyric into something almost sinister, and it lands just this side of perverse. But it's Billy Corgan who gets the highest marks here for capturing Faithfull's dominant strengths with "I'm On Fire." A large, timberline rhythm, slowed to a crawl, covered in keyboard and synthed strings become a processional for the anthem Faithfull calls forth from the center of her being as her words come hurtling from the depths: "...And love did come but in such disguise/That I could hardly recognize!/So with trust in fate and love of life/Take my chance and roll the dice/And whatever sent me...I'll still be there/Whatever happens, it's true/And I'm standing still/Try to show the way..." Likewise on "Wherever I go," Corgan captures the pace of her delivery, and the dynamic her lyrics demand -- "You can see I've come so far/So kiss me quick/I swear upon the stars they're mine..." -- strings, synths, shimmering drums, warbling guitars, all of them are draped lovingly around Ms. Faithfull's voice. Her collaborations with Dave Stewart in a heartfelt tribute on the "Song for Nico" register as honest and bare of all sentimentality. But in "Love and Money" and "Sliding Through Life on Charm," Ms. Faithfull's sense of irony and Jarvis Cocker's sonic architecture don't match; they overstate one another and cancel each other out of the mix, leaving no room for either lyric or pop sensibility to redeem them. The title track, a collaboration with Blur, is in the pocket, with its droopy, dubby texture that threatens to swallow Faithfull's voice, but doesn't get the chance as Damon Albarn slithers in under the guitars to stretch her lyric in the refrain, creating a hypnotic, sexy drone that envelops both singers. The album closes with another collaboration, with Corgan on a cover of a Goffin & King tune called "Something Good." Its sweetness is initially off-putting, until the listener makes the connection that this is Faithfull singing a song that would have been a natural for her 35 years ago. It sounds so alien, so gauzy, like a ghost from memory past coming to illustrate why things change. It's positively tender, not ironic. Ultimately, Kissin' Time is another achievement, another raise of the bar, another welcome and necessary addition in the strange and beautiful catalog of Marianne Faithfull.

blue highlight denotes track pick