Thursday, September 29, 2011

Album Review: Anna Calvi

Despite seeing Ms Calvi earlier in the year, it’s taken me till now to give her album a ‘spin’. It’s hard to listen to this album without thinking of PJ Harvey, and it’s certainly in debt to her, but how many albums are not influenced by something.
The album is built Anna Calvi’s strong guitar playing and powerful voice, though opening track Rider to the Sea features just Calvi’s surf guitar. It’s a dramatic way to open the album, building the tension with wordless backing vocals. No More Words follows, one of the more low-key, muted tracks on the album before Desire, which it has to be said, sounds like a perfect facsimile of classic PJ Harvey.
The album is well-sequenced, she avoids the temptation to start with her strongest songs. Suzanne and I is more dramatic than what has gone before with a powerful guitar fusing perfectly with Calvi’s somewhat Siouxsie-esque vocal.
Later, The Devil is more stripped down, relying mainly on the vocals, while Blackout is that rarity, a radio-friendly tune which avoids blandness. Final track, Love Won’t Be Leaving is an absolute powerhouse of a track, hugely dramatic with dark riffs, femme fatale vocals and crashing percussion, conjuring up snake charmers and David Lynch-ian weirdness. The midsection is particularly thrilling, with some excellent guitar work.
Anna Calvi, though certainly in thrall to PJ Harvey, avoids pastiche, with an immensely enjoyable collection. It’s an intensely late night album, made for dark nights with a bottle of red wine.