Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi

Domino

Mar 17, 2011 Issue #35 - Winter 2011 - Death Cab for Cutie Bookmark and Share


Before her first album even came out, Anna Calvi had legions of admirers, many of them famous (Nick Cave, Interpol), and listening to her self-titled debut, it's easy to understand why. From the first moment she opens her mouth (which takes a surprisingly long time—the opening track, "Rider to the Sea," is largely instrumental, with Calvi only singing as the song crescendos) it's obvious Calvi has a gift. Her commanding voice calls to mind some of the most powerful female performers in rock history.

At Calvi's highest points, Siouxsie Sioux, Chrissie Hynde, and Patti Smith are fair comparisons. But the record Anna Calvi may recall most vividly is Jeff Buckley's Grace, a loose collection of songs carried through by an exceptional voice. Buckley was ahead of Calvi at this early stage as both a songwriter and a guitar player, but Calvi has a similar focus that negates the importance of whatever else is happening at the present moment in music. Like Buckley, Calvi creates her own present. That's the amazing news.

The dark cloud threatening to rain on this parade is this: the songs on Anna Calvi, with a few exceptions, aren't great. The standouts, such as the devastating "Desire" or the looser "Blackout," are propelled by Calvi's sheer force. Much of the rest of the bunch languish, waiting for the occasional transcendent moment. Often, they don't come. The album's closer, however, the imposing "Love Won't Be Leaving," finds a balance between patience and urgency. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come and Calvi can make good on her Hall of Fame-level talent. (www.myspace.com/annacalvi)  

Author rating: 7/10

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