Anna Calvi - Strange Weather - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Anna Calvi - Strange Weather

by Jeff Penczak Rating:4.5 Release Date:2014-07-14

I’ve never understood the allure of the covers album concept, which usually reeks of the proverbial contractual obligation nonsense that artists use to extricate themselves from draconian straightjackets their labels have cocooned around them. Sometimes it’s a stopgap while the artist works on new material, somewhat akin to a greatest hits package, another bane of my existence. Yet everyone from John Lennon and The Ramones to Joan Jett, Patti Smith, and Siouxsie & the Banshees have released one.

It’s seems a bit early in Ms Calvi’s career to toss in the self-composed towel, having recorded less than two dozen originals across her first two albums. But she doesn’t set precedent here, having graced her singles’ flip-sides with interesting covers of songs by Elvis Presley, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, and The Shirelles.

However, this time she reaches way out of the box, unearthing painfully obscure tracks from equally obscure artists (FKA twigs? Connan Mockasin?) and headscratchers from David Bowie (quick – which album is ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ on, assuming you knew it was a Bowie song to begin with). I will give her major props for having a go at one of my own current favourite obscure performers, Israeli folk singer Keren Ann Zeidel, whose title track (from Keren’s most recent album, 101) benefits from a haunting duet with that other David B - Byrne. Nice piano accompaniment adds an almost Gothic ambience to the track, which is bathed in a Marianne Faithfull-sings-Bertolt Brecht vibe.

Mockasin’s uncomfortably punctuated (another personal pet peeve) ‘I’m The Man, That Will Find You’ is a bluesy, sultry swagger through back alleys and seedy nightclubs full of the stench of cheap cigars, cheaper whiskey, and cheaper yet women. It’s a bit overwrought, bordering on Adele-lite - not a good sign. Suicide’s ‘Ghost Rider’ fares much better – she’s got New York City’s sleazy Bowery grime down pat and her musical exorcism on the six-string is an eerie bonus.

Unfortunately, the Bowie cover is an interminable snooze, and twigs’ ‘Papi Pacify’ is equally lost in a meandering search for an arrangement, tripping across the blues and avant-garde skronkings and squealings along the way.

Sharpen up your pencil, Anna, and get back to the writing desk. Your experiment is over. Now that it’s mercifully out of your system (albeit mercilessly into ours), let’s see if we can’t have some original material to rescue your career and put this misstep far behind you.

Overall Rating (0)

0 out of 5 stars

Comments (44)

Load More
Related Articles
Anna Calvi - Strange Weather - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Anna Calvi - Hunter
  • 09/02/2018
  • By Andy Brown