Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Marianne Faithfull: Easy Come Easy Go [Decca, 2009]
Thank you Hal Willner. She's so much more powerful here than on her Polly Jean Harvey-Nick Cave flub of 2005--in part because the old songs outweigh the Meloy-Neko-Espers numbers included to prove the old bat is still hip to the jive, but also because detailed orchestration as well as dramatic commitment renew even the filthy Bessie Smith title tune, done classic blues style but with Lenny Pickett's sarrusophone providing a sprightly bass groan. It seems crazy to say that her "Down From Dover" equals Dolly Parton's or her "In My Solitude" Billie Holiday's--they're great singers and she's not. But working together, Faithfull and Willner convert them into pop artsongs that make their own kind of sense in the company of other very different pop artsongs, including Brian Eno and Judee Sill compositions previously beloved only by their mutually exclusive cults. Not the Espers one, though. Eclecticism has its limits. A