Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi

by Rich Morris Rating:7 Release Date:2011-01-17

This might only be her debut album, but Anna Calvi has already amassed a following which includes Brian Eno. She's also toured with Interpol and Grinderman, skilfully positioning herself at the dark, moody, slightly gothic end of the rock spectrum. It's a genre she inhabits on this eponymous album like a spider tucked in its web. Opening with a melodramatic, spaghetti western-themed instrumental called 'Rider to the Sea', Calvi then hits us with the no less tempestuous 'No More Words', a stormy rock number which reveals her debt to PJ Harvey, an influence which pervades the whole record. Her evident love of Kate Bush's ornate work of leftfield pop genius, 'Wuthering Heights' also proves a recurring touchstone.

However, the fact that Calvi wears her influences in plain sight doesn't mean this isn't a fully-formed and hugely confident debut, full of towering, anthemic moments. 'Suzanne and I' is like a Bond theme written and sung by dispossessed ghouls. At one point the song drops away entirely to leave the kind of wailing and moaning last heard greeting the appearance of the obelisk in 2001: A Space Oddessy. Third track 'Desire' is just as accomplished, and either song could provide a breakthrough hit for Calvi.

There might not be much which is really new on this album, but everything is pulled off with such panache and conviction that it almost feels revelatory at times. If there is one real complaint one could make, it's that the intensity and drama become a little one note across the whole record. Closing song 'Love Won't Be Leaving' has a wonderful tension and spaciousness early on but this is sacrificed for a swirling, drawn-out climax which just nudges into 'overwrought'.

At times, Anna Calvi sounds like the record a stroppy, hormonal, Twilight fixated teen girl would make if she happened to be in possession of ridiculously precocious talent and a very cool record collection. Every track deals in experiences of love, lust and loss, heightened to such an extent they sometimes risk becoming parody. It's a testament to the focus Calvi maintains that that never happens. You have to be in the right mood the enjoy the whole of Anna Calvi in one go - the kind of mood where you want to wallow in seductive, lovelorn misery and maybe throw yourself around on some wiley, windy moors probably - but this is still an impressive debut from an artist we're sure to hear more from.

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