Monday, March 7th, 2011
Review of Anna Calvi’s Anna Calvi
Emma NathanThis week marks the beginning of the annual cross-continental live music bacchanal that I like to call CMWCMFSxSW (pronounced the way it’s spelled), and while I still fully expect to have a grand time of it, there’s been a bit of a pall cast now that one of the artists whom I’d been most excited to see at both festivals – London’s Anna Calvi – has pulled out of her entire North American tour, including fest appearances, because of an injury to her arm/hand/wrist.
Obviously the timing couldn’t be worse as she had a full slate of shows scheduled in Austin to showcase her just-released self-titled debut, but luckily for her the record doesn’t necessarily need to be seen live to be appreciated – just heard. It’s an unapologetically lush and wholly enveloping album, candlelit and thick with smoke and perfume and evocative of opera, theatre and cabaret influences but cast in a pop setting. And at the centre of the swirl of sounds and signifiers is Calvi, her guitar and her voice – and it’s hard to know which of her two instruments to be more impressed with.
Opening instrumental “Rider To The Sea” is a jaw-dropping declaration of intent, her distinctive flamenco-ish circular picking technique sounding more like an orchestra than two hands and a Telecaster and making you think that if this were just an instrumental album it’d still be impossible to turn away. But then when she steps up the mic on “No More Words”, everything else falls away as you lean in to better hear her breathy, alluring delivery. Oh yes, it’s going to be that kind of record. Or so you think, until “Desire” hits and the smouldering voice transforms into a conflagration.
This is the sort of dynamic that plays out over the course of Anna Calvi while exploring themes of seduction, love and lust, all punctuated with jaw-dropping guitar breaks. Some may find fault in its aesthetic and call the delivery over the top, but such is the world that Calvi’s music inhabits – all gestures are flourishes, all statements grand declarations of import. Seriously, if anyone objects to the amount of romanticism that positively saturates Anna Calvi, there is a very good chance that they are dead inside. My disappointment in not getting to see her live over the next two weeks is only tempered by the fact that when she finally does make it over here, I’ll had had that much more time to become more obsessed with this album.
“Jezebel” was an Edith Piaf cover released as a teaser for the album, but does not appear on it. It was actually the first I heard from Calvi and honestly, didn’t do much for me – which made the album itself all that much more of a revelation.
In Scottish Waters is a short documentary that follows British Sea Power to Scotland’s remote Isle of Eigg for a performance showcasing their new record Valhalla Dancehall. They’ll be trekking to Toronto’s remote Lee’s Palace for the same purpose on March 24.
Also readying a new record but not offering up anything in the way of a title or release date are Arctic Monkeys. What they are offering, however, is a video for the first single. Update: And a North American tour – May 21 at the Kool Haus in Toronto.
Burgess is one of many, along with frontman Ian Brown and producer John Leckie, who contribute thoughts and reminiscences to Clash‘s special feature marking the 20th anniversary of The Stone Roses’ debut album.
The Raveonettes have also paid tribute to The Stone Roses by way of a cover of “I Wanna Be Adored”, for which they’ve put out a video. They’ve also released the first clip from their new record Raven In The Grave, out March 22. They play The Phoenix on April 2.
Video: Junip – “In Every Direction”