Easy Come Easy Go
REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/30/2009
For many an artist who covet the baby boomer crowd, a standards album can frequently be a safe gamble both commercially and artistically. If you’re Rod Stewart, a standards album will earn you multi-platinum success. If you’re an artist like Queen Latifah, you may attract buyers who may not have purchased a single album from your genre. In rare instances, like in the case of Johnny Cash, it can unleash a new well of creativity and restore your relevance in the music world.
In most cases, though, covers get you to listen to artists who you probably wouldn’t have listened to in the first place. Ryan Adams too tone deaf for you? Try his cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” Artists who would never land on regular Top 40 radio like the Cowboy Junkies and Tori Amos have lured in thousands of novice listeners with their covers. One of Johnny Cash’s biggest hits was a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song. Purists may scoff at them, but covers bring in the listeners.
If you’re Marianne Faithfull, there couldn’t have been a better time to release Easy Come Easy Go. If any artist deserves some financial kickback from the alt-country explosion of this decade, it’s Faithfull. Her hard living has translated onto her records like few others, and as a result, her vocal delivery may be a bit too much for the average ear.
Easy Come Easy Go may have been more enjoyable of a listen if the album didn’t seem so incredibly calculated. The covers are “just right” – old standards (Billie Holiday’s “Solitude,” Dolly Parton’s “Down From Dover”) are portioned almost as equally as new standards like Neko Case’s “Hold On Hold On” and The Decemberists’ “The Crane Wife,” giving something both boomers and Gen-Yers can enjoy. And while the album certainly won’t pull in much revenue from a cameo from Rob Thomas, appearances by Nick Cave and Jarvis Cocker seem to be almost too perfectly calculated to pull in the hipster crowd.
This arrangement would seem cynical in its packaging if Faithfull hadn’t pulled it off so deftly. Yes, the covers are almost too meticulously selected, but they wonderfully complement Faithfull’s vocals. Producer Hal Willner, who helped create the most polarizing album of Lucinda Williams’s career, West, ensures every percussion, brass and guitar note perfectly complements Faithfull’s vocals.
Easy Come Easy Go could go down as one of the most notable albums in Faithfull’s career. For Faithfull neophytes, this will be the first album many listeners will pick up (author’s note – it was the first Marianne Faithfull album I purchased). The album more than does the trick in getting new listeners interested in her back catalog. But for the Faithfull faithful, Easy Come Easy Go may come off as a tad disposable. It’s definitely not American Recordings, but it is light years superior than most standards albums.