Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi (2011)

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Who the hell is Anna Calvi? That's question I asked myself over and over when I visited the UK earlier this year and saw poster after poster promoting her self-titled debut. Honestly, I was far more excited about the new Noah and the Whale (whose posters were never quite far away from hers) to pay her the necessary time of day. It's only after I read a rave review of her recent Bowery Ballroom show that I realized how much of a mistake that was.

The instrumental "Richer to the Sea" is your intro to Anna Calvi's Spanish night club/flamenco-inspired style. Featuring an ominous solo guitar to set the mood, it crackles with drama and intensity before giving way to "No More Words", Calvi's actual introduction as she seductively croons in a cabaret style "Oh my love" each with enough emotional punch and artful inflection to insure the phrase never grows old. Anthemic "Desire" signals another change in Calvi's style, plugging up and flushing out her heretofore solo endeavor, amping up her triumphant declarations of love and lust. "The Devil" features Calvi going back to her sparse arrangements while also featuring her using siren-like calls and fuzzy guitars to evoke a supernatural atmosphere.

When Anna Calvi's voice first entered on "No More Words", I had a hard time grasping what all the fuss was about. It's not until you witness all the other way she utilizes her utterly jawdropping voice that I realized how much effort the track's breathy vocals take. Some of the truly great things about Calvi's debut are essentially the easiest to miss: Like the recurring flamenco-esque theme introduced in "Richer to the Sea" or her coquette-ish vocal stylings. Her songwriting manages to use a wide variety of elements at her disposal while also distilling it into something simple and utterly visceral. Her lyrics serving to augment her already rather evocative compositional style and yet, still being of actual substance.

Get a taste of Anna Calvi with her video for "Blackout":

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