They’re previewing the record with her reading of Lord Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty,” which he wrote in June 1814. Birds chirp on the recording before piano and ethereal synths provide a bed for Faithfull’s recitation of the poem, which describes a woman’s unparalleled grace. The video for the song, which was directed by Yann Orhan, features a painting by Colin Self. The album comes out on April 30th.
“It’s very romantic, not like you imagine Byron to be,” Faithfull said of the poem in a statement. “It’s so beautiful, and that’s why I like it. I love the other side of Byron, too, but this is really amazing, sublime. And I was very drawn to the ability to do really beautiful rhymes. I think that’s from being a songwriter. It’s incredibly nice. Not what I connect with Lord Byron at all.”
She also commented on the idea behind the album, which also features Faithfull’s readings of poems by Keats, Wordsworth, Shelley, Tennyson, and others, and how its inspiration stretches back decades.
“When I was 13 or 14, I bought myself a book, Palgrave’s Golden Treasury, and that really turned me on to poetry, lots of different poetry,” said the singer, who is now 74. “And then there was my English teacher at the convent, Mrs. Simpson. I was studying for my A-Levels in the year before I got discovered. Very happy. Then I was discovered and never finished them, but I learned a lot and it never left me, so I had this idea all my life, really, that I wanted to make the most beautiful poetry record with music.”
In addition to Ellis’ compositions, the record also features contributions from Nick Cave, Brian Eno, cellist Vincent Ségal, and producer-engineer Head. “My preferred way of making music is to leave a lot of it to chance, to let accidents happen,” Ellis said previously. “I’ve been moving away from structures in things. This music is me attempting to push forward. I think it’s as good as anything I’ve ever done, in terms of the spirit of it and the process I went through to make it.”
In related news, earlier this week Ellis surprise-released a new collaboration with Nick Cave, titled Carnage. The record boasts eight new songs and features the duo’s first work together outside of film scores.
She Walks in Beauty Tracklist
1. “She Walks in Beauty” (Lord Byron)
2. “The Bridge of Sighs” (Thomas Hood)
3. “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” (John Keats)
4. “Ode to a Nightingale” (John Keats)
5. “Ode to Autumn” (John Keats)
6. “Ozymandias” (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
7. “From the Prelude” (William Wordsworth)
8. “Surprised by Joy” (Williams Wordsworth)
9. “To the Moon” (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
10. “So We’ll Go No More A Roving” (Lord Byron)
11. “The Lady of Shalott” (Lord Tennyson)