Anna Calvi -‘Hunter.’ (Domino)
…bloody hell, now that’s what I’m talking about.
There’s been a lot of gigs over the course of the summer, and I’ll be honest, a lot of the time it’s been great just to go and watch gigs without having to write up reviews. The inbox has looked ever more like a war zone and I’ve even wondered if I could carry on doing the blog, when the swamp of emails threatened to overwhelm me as much as I felt overwhelmed by more tourists than ever.
Then the new Anna Calvi album arrives, her third and her first for five years. Suddenly I remember why I fell in love with music in the first place. Even before I’ve finished listening to the album for the first time, I wonder: is this her best album? Because the first two are pretty damn good, but this is sorcery. See, after punk, for many years artists felt they had to hide their musical abilities. Calvi has a voice that absorbs opera, in her own distinctive way, and her guitar playing is virtuoso – yet neither ever feel over the top. That my friends, is some serious talent right there. Combined with the songwriting and it’s an utterly irresistible combination.
There’s scarcely a wrong move on the album – within a few notes my wife pricked up her ears and asked who it was – but the title track and ‘Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy’ which did the rounds ahead of the album are a great place to start. The videos are worth seeing too; enough to give programmers of music TV nightmares but those who believe music videos can be art will love them.
So, with this release, Ms. Calvi has reached a new level, and it’s more sensual and passionate than ever. She’s talking more freely in interviews about sexuality and gender, and that shouldn’t frighten away anyone other than those who have no place here. As Brian Eno said, when she first appeared, she was the best thing since Patti Smith, but Anna Calvi has truly arrived as Anna Calvi with this release. An essential listen that reaches in, grabs you and won’t let go…
Hunter is out now on Domino
Low, photo credit Shelly Mosman.
As I hinted at in my last post, I’ve been exhausted by everything going on in Edinburgh during August. But it’s time to return to some kind of normality around here…
I mentioned a few months ago that Low are about to release a new album, entitled Double Negative. Coming out once again on the legendary Sub Pop, the tracks released so far to do the rounds are a sign that the band have taken a radical step and embraced electronics. Overwhelmed by submissions over here at 17 Seconds Towers, ‘Disarray,’ taken from the album, is simply stunning. As in: one of the best tracks I have heard this year.
At first, it might even seem like radio interference, and then the vocals kick in. It’s like hearing ELO over some of the noughties finest noise acts, something that sounds so wrong it can only possibly come together. It continues to bode well for the new album, and shows that twenty-five years in, the trio from Duluth, Minnesota are continuing to challenge listeners. Bring on the album!
It’s been a busy few weeks, if not round the blog. I’ve been enjoying the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe, and generally feeling pretty damn tired as a result.
I have written a couple of bits for God Is In The TV zine, which I encourage you to have a look at: my Aretha Franklin obituary was written last Thursday, and you can find it here. I also contributed to the twenty best Madonna songs article on the magazine, and you can read mine and everyone else’s contributions here.
I’ve also enjoyed Mamma Mia Here We Go Again at the cinema- and should you be so inclined, here’s a piece I wrote in the very early days of the blog comparing Abba to Joy Division, and amongst other things, seen Pussy Riot and John Grant at the festival.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel exhausted by the sheer amount of music that’s out there, new and old.
So, based on what I’ve written above, if you hear one track today, it should be this. Aretha Franklin’s recording of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ from her gospel album Amazing Grace. Just fantastic.