Antony and the Johnsons -‘Swanlights’ (Rough Trade)
A few weeks ago, the Mercury Music Prize announced its’ winner and the usual debate(s) ensued about whether the award ever goes to anyone who does anything exciting musically, and whether it will have any positive bearing whatsoever on sales.
One man who showed that it most definitely can do both is Antony Hegarty, who won the award in 2005 for his sophomore album I Am a Bird Now. A few months previously, someone had come into the record shop where I worked at the time and I had to confess ignorance at who he was. ‘You’ll know soon,’ said my customer, as she purchased the album. I did indeed -and word started to spread.
But awards or not, the important thing is that here we have another excellent album from Antony and the Johnsons (as he pointed out in last months Mojo, in deference to Marc (Almond) and the Mambas), and it has arrived less than two years since the last, The Crying Light. That voice is present there as always, and the music is there, but subtle for much of the time. Yet again he has produced another absolutely stunning album.
There’s a number of highlights here – the single ‘Thank You For Your Love’, ‘The Spirit Was Gone’ and for me the outstanding moment is the collaboration with Bjork on the almost nursery-rhyme like ‘Flétta’ and which could fit comfortably alongside most of the material from PJ Harvey’s White Chalk album. Sometimes his music may be dark – yet there are moments to suggest that this maybe his most upbeat album yet; it feels more like spring than the autumn which so often permeates from and into his world.
Antony Hegarty is a true original, and a God given talent. There’s songs on here that are as good as any he’s done thus far; and whether the next album emerges in six months or ten years, I’ll be waiting, and appreciaiting what he’s produed in the meantime.
Swanlights is out now on Rough Trade.