In the past few years, ANNA CALVI was nominated for the Mercury Prize and Brit Award, discovered and lauded by none other than BRIAN ENO, won the Border Breakers Award at Eurosonic Noorderslag , and generally blew people’s minds with her piercing and electrifying voice over unabashedly loud-rock guitar. It’s tempered with the symphonic elements of piano and strings. ANNA CALVI is back with her new album One Breath (available October 7 via Domino Records). She has developed further since her critically acclaimed self-titled debut, and is has made a confident and full-bodied record that should shut anybody up who complains that sophomore efforts are disappointing.
While most female rock or pop vocals are skim milk, ANNA CALVI’s is full fat and frothy: there’s elements of the operatic, like AUSTRA, and the sinister, like Karen O. From the ramped up single Eliza to the quieter, accusatory Piece by Piece, CALVI has mounted a full frontal assault that is even more exquisite and dramatic live. There are atonal elements (guitar distortion on Piece by Piece and fuzzed out elements on Tristan, the build up on One Breath which morphs into a string piece) that keep the tracks from being pretty and decorative. The thrust is to confront: “If you’re going to do it/do it now” CALVI demands.
One Breath as an album is telling us a story, and as she referenced this in our interview with her: themes in her songs relate to her life, but in a veiled way. By keeping her lyrics obtuse, the listener is left to fill in the blanks. Whether it’s the dark, industrial sound of Love of My Life or the quieter, pleading piano on Bleed Into Me, One Breath has ANNA CALVI is expanding and finessing her style as a musician. Let’s hope she keeps the sonic assault, and the feedback, on full blast.