Anna Calvi: One Breath (Domino) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Anna Calvi

One Breath


Oct 22, 2013 Anna Calvi Bookmark and Share

England’s Anna Calvi is a master of moodiness. Her eponymous 2011 debut album was slightly unnerving, slightly scary, and hauntingly magnificent—10 tracks of Calvi and her guitar against the world.

It propelled her to the upper echelons of indie rock. Uniformly praised by critics, it was also shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize in the U.K., where Calvi was beaten only by the spectacular Let England Shake by PJ Harvey.

It is fitting that Polly Jean ousted Anna in that particular contest. Calvi owes a huge amount to Harvey, from the enigmatic nature of her live shows, the way that her music builds and envelops the listener in a shroud of minor notes, and above all, the breathy, ethereal vocals.

But to brand her as an imitator would be entirely superficial. So while throughout One Breath the similarities are startling, Calvi has plenty of her own ideas. She is in the same woe-is-us camp as Harvey or Scout Niblett or even Cat Power, but what marks her out as a more interesting artist is the range of tracks on her albums.

“Piece by Piece,” for example, features a drum machine and is almost poppy, while title track “One Breath” starts off as a gentle ballad before giving way to a triumphant string section. “Tristan” is angry—“God help you, Tristan,” Calvi says, and you believe that whoever this guy is, he is in trouble; while “Love of My Life” is bluesy, swampy post-industrial rock.

One Breath may not be an album full of hit singles, nor will it take Anna Calvi out of the well-respected comfort zone that she currently inhabits. But it is a striking and hypnotic record, laced with tension and talent, and bristling with a wide range of ideas. (


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