Artist: Anna Calvi
Album: Anna Calvi
(17 January 2011, Domino Records)
Tags: romantic pop
, female vocalists
, my gang rotw
Video: Click the pic... YouTube, official video
I've wanted to write about Anna Calvi since the beginning of January but had to wait; the only place her debut album was streaming was on the Guardian website and there were no videos yet.
Since then, Anna Calvi has appeared on Later...with Jools Holland
, the album is widely available online and there's a shiny new video for this week's recommendation, Blackout.
Like the rest of the album, Blackout is all high drama, melodrama, passion and overblown sound. Here is a female vocalist writing romantic songs that comfortably compete with stadium rock artists such as Muse
. Favourably compared with Nick Cave
and PJ Harvey
, the music is built on solid foundations; it is exquisite and detailed, both intimate and ranging, creating a sound that carries and sparkles as it goes.
Then her voice, operatic, intense and powerful. Calvi allows her voice to stand on its own and doesn't try to embellish it with ornamentation. The raw power of her vocals delivered straight and the surreal David Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti
music together form an atmosphere of mystery and darkness at once disturbing and captivating, seducing the listener so nothing else matters.
Blackout begins with an ethereal shimmer before the curtain goes up and the song bolts ahead. The beat sets a relentless, galloping pace as Calvi's vocals are allowed free rein. It's so atypical of contemporary pop, it holds you in its thrall throughout, leaving you a little spent come the end, itself as abrupt as the beginning.
The video is very simple, focusing on Calvi and dazzling with glitter and lights. It serves not to detract from the song so you stay with it.
When the album first appeared online on the Guardian website, I played it on repeat. I was taken by her voice, at times just a whisper and others, pure power, trembling as she controls it, the virtuoso guitar and nods to Ennio Morricone
, flamenco, blues rock and classical. I found the sinister, menacing tones appealing and what impressed me most was the consistent theatricality that she maintains throughout, changing its shape and colour with every song. There is depth and intensity contrasted against light that comes from shimmers and relief after tension in the music is released. Themes are of love, lust and devils as she broods on fears and longings.
Overriding everything is its sheer beauty. It's in your face with filigree and shadow. The album doesn't make for a light listen and I left it alone for a while, but I'm going to see her in concert tomorrow, hence the revisit and my choice for this week.
Further reading:BBC reviewThe Quietus reviewPitchfork reviewThe Line Of Best Fit - interview with Anna CalviThe Line Of Best Fit review
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Date Added: Mar 15, 2011
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