written by Chris Familton
It is rare these days that a debut album comes along that pricks up the ears and makes you stop what you are doing and take a closer listen. Sure there are heaps of great first time releases coming out all the time but they usually fit into ‘flavour of the month’ boxes or have been hyped so we already know it is great before we’ve heard it. English songwriter Anna Calvi has delivered one of those truly great debut albums that could have appeared at any time over the last 50 years.
Possessing a voice that can sweetly seduce one moment and wail bold and glorious the next, Calvi has written ten songs that are incredibly self-assured and ambitious in scope yet she never oversteps the mark. As well as having a voice that at various times brings to mind Siouxsie Sioux and PJ Harvey, she is a fascinating guitarist who soaks her telecaster in massive splashes of reverb making it twang and crash magnificently. As if to state the value of the instrument she opens the record with the instrumental Rider To The Sea that sounds like a long lost sister to Jeff Buckley’s Live At Sine recordings.
As the album progresses Calvi paints a dark and sultry picture of lost and found love and its many mysteries. A million songs have been written about these matters but she frames them with such vibrant moods that the music carries the words into wonderful and totally believable places. Desire is uplifting, Suzanne And I weaves some mesmerizing melodies into its slow march while I’ll Be Your Man dials in some dramatic mariachi strut. The ghost of Nico haunts Morning Light showing the breadth of Calvi’s talents for drawing from the past and sounding totally like her own creation. Finally a musician has arrived who effortlessly lives up to the hype.
this review first appeared in Drum Media