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Anna Calvi ‘Anna Calvi’

Everyone seems to be championing Anna Calvi. Everyone from the BBC to Brian Eno to my mother (who lives underneath a rock). But can one of the most hyped new artists of 2011 deliver the goods on her debut self-titled album? The expectations are so weighty that even I feel as though I’m carrying around a few extra pounds.

So what exactly can Anna Calvi offer us? In short, her voice is intimate yet powerful, her guitar playing is eerie yet intricate, and her music is a hybrid of theatrical cabaret, gothic pop and baroque rock. Upon your first listen you’ll be bowled over by the sheer intensity of her overall sound and her undeniable talent, both as a singer and as a songwriter.

Anna Calvi’s rise to prominence has been swift and not without a fair share of luck – the unknown singer-songwriter-musician was snapped up by label Domino after a tip off from former Coral guitarist Bill Rider-Jones, who happened upon her at a Johnny Flynn gig. That’s not to say that Anna isn’t deserving of her chance for greatness – she’s put in the hours, from spending close to three years crafting the songs to co-producing the record to even writing and arranging some of the accompanying strings (very few artists can claim to have undertaken the latter task on their albums).

This self-titled album is a real mixed bag of influences and references, with ‘Suzanne and I’ sounding like a Bond theme, ‘Desire’ resonating like an Arcade Fire-esque indie anthem, and even a hint of the sinister atmosphere most associated with trip-hoppers Massive Attack on ‘No More Words.’ The album possesses such a consistent quality that there are no obvious individual highlights. However, I do think a special mention should be made of ‘The Devil’ – a raw showcase of Anna’s emotional and sensual voice intertwined with her virtuoso guitar-work. It effortlessly blends classical guitar and understated rock’n’roll. There hasn’t been something quite so hauntingly beautiful since the late Jeff Buckley.

Anna Calvi has been compared to PJ Harvey – perhaps because they share the same producer or because Calvi’s delivery contains the same sultry and brooding tone that Harvey encompasses – but such a comparison is misplaced. Whereas PJ Harvey produces experimental and alternative variations of rock, Calvi produces experimental and alternative variations of pop. She has more in common with artists like Florence and The Machine and Fiona Apple, though her sound contains a much darker character. This debut may be void of any obvious appeal to the mainstream, but Calvi will feel safe knowing, with confidence, that she’ll be able to justify her own hype upon it’s release.

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~ by cliveparisrozario on January 13, 2011.

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