Saturday, 19 March 2011

Mini Review: Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi

Can the run of good albums on Mini Reviews continue? I first encountered Anna Calvi a few months ago during the BBC Sound of 2011 poll, and I found her take on the Edith Piaf song "Jezebel" promising, evoking 90’s blues revivalists PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, but unfortunately her debut album hasn’t delivered a similar experience, and it‘s a shame that single didn‘t feature on Anna Calvi. Many tracks lose their way despite their overwhelming ambition, such as "Desire" or the entirely forgettable "Suzanne and I", which even Calvi‘s deep, powerful voice can‘t save. The cinematic quality of the album lead to a couple of movie soundtrack-like moments. The surf guitar of "I’ll Be Your Man" has Quentin Tarantino potential, but being shorter than many tracks here prevents it from becoming an album standout. The final track "Love Won’t Be Leaving" fares a little better, like the vintage Bond theme that never was, and it rounds off the album nicely. Despite the overblown, deadweight much of this album falls back on, Calvi can draw attention through the moments when her sound is expanded. The flamenco guitar touches rolling out towards the end of the first track "Rider to the Sea" breathe life through the promising instrumental; they also return on "The Devil". And "Blackout" may just be the best track here, where Calvi holds back her tremendous voice to make way for what sound like oddly wind-like sampled vocals. Similarly "Morning Light"’s slower, breathier approach is a welcome change, as it crescendos into something more compelling than when Calvi decides to use all her vocal and instrumental force. Overall this album may only appeal to blues lovers of those with an interest in Ennio Morricone’s career highlights, but Anna Calvi is definitely an artist with potential, and this album proves so.

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