Anna Calvi’s debut album in 2011 marked her as a bold and confident songwriter that was matched by her exceptional voice and guitar playing. Two years later we have One Breath, a record that finds her retaining the dramatic and virtuosic elements of her music but also expanding its sonic scope by experimenting with new sounds and song structures.
Eliza is an early standout with its martial drumming and Calvi’s soaring vocals giving the chorus a euphoric skyward feel. It builds to a crescendo assisted by synths and strings, eclectically combining to maximise the song’s drama. The electronic flourishes are an example of the creative expansion Calvi has attempted on this album. They flesh the songs out and add layers of texture to what would otherwise be rather bare pieces of music, primarily her guitar, voice and percussion. The weaker moments on One Breath occur when Calvi stretches too far from her strengths as she does on Love of My Life, a playful glam stomp that feels contrived and unnecessary.
The great far outweighs the few mediocre moments on Calvi’s second album. It is a record that shows she is ambitious and is fearlessly attempting to forge her own musical path. Like contemporaries Zola Jesus and Wild Beasts, Calvi seems to share a certain aesthetic vision to embed art and theatricality in music yet hers is uniquely and rewardingly her own.
this review was first published on undertheradar.co.nz