Gig Review – Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi

St Luke’s, Glasgow, September 30

It had been a rather frantic dash along the Scottish Central Belt to be in time for this gig. When we arrived the nice people on the door told us there was about nine minutes until our heroine was due on stage. This turned out to be possibly the longest nine minutes ever, but when the warm-up DJ was giving the audience Janelle Monae, the Ohio Players and Kenrick Lamar, then who’s complaining?

Brilliant, if a little incongruous, unless we want to get into a discussion about the roots of r’n’b music. See, as Anna Calvi comes on solo and coaxes southern blues out of the swamps and bayou, it’s clear that her roots and inspirations show her to be so much more than just the vague notion of female-singer songwriters. Her live performance foils turn out to be just two, a drummer cum electronics expert and a multi-instrumentalist. Anna Calvi can pull guitar poses with the best of them, and when she seems to meet my eye (the venue is just small enough that it is possible for the whites of her eyes to be seen), it’s as if she manages to imply a wink without even blinking. Maybe it’s the headliner’s privilege, but she has all so completely in the palm of her hand that when she goes ‘shhh’ it really goes quiet. Never have the washing machines in the bars been so glared at.

Of course, the beguiling stage present wouldn’t mean a thing if she didn’t have the songs to go with it. As I’ve said before, there’s no question that Hunter, her most recent album, is the finest release of her career so far. The songs are fantastic, and whether it’s the menace of ‘Indies Or Paradise’ or the gentle title track or the urgency of ‘As A Man’, there is so much on offer here for folks.

For the encore she gives us a delightfully understated ‘Suzanne and I’ from her self-titled debut and finally, her take on Suicide’s ‘Ghostrider.’ She originally covered this on her 2014 EP Strange Weather, and in her hands it starts off in the wasteland of 1970s New York no-wave electronics and makes its way southwards to those bayou and swamps of time immemorial. That is how to tackle a cover version, folks.

At St. Luke’s customers are just around the corner from the legendary Barrowlands Ballroom. As Ms. Calvi notches up another hit album, and her best reviews yet, the thought occurs that selling out that venue the next time is completely within the bounds of possibility. She’s doing this all on her own terms, of course.

Here’s hoping that this is one hunter that never gets captured by the game.

Hunter is out now on Domino.

Album Review – Anna Calvi

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

The return of Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi

In 2011, Anna Calvi appeared with her self-titled debut album, bewitching many who heard it, not least Jarvis Cocker, Nick Cave and Brian Eno.

She is due to release her sophomore album One Breath in two weeks’ time, which she has said is inspired by her battle with depression. Just in case that sounds that it might make for a bleak, unpleasant listen, check out the following three tracks from her soundcloud page:

The tracklisting for One Breath is as follows:

‘Piece By Piece’
‘Sing To Me’
‘One Breath’
‘Love Of My Life’
‘Carry Me Over’
‘Bleed Into Me’
‘The Bridge’

Certainly one of many albums I’m looking forward to…

…and more music from my inbox

Often there’s so much music coming into my inbox that I really struggle to write about it all, even when it’s stuff i want to cover.

So I’m going to kill three cliches, sorry, birds with one stone and write about three things I’m enjoying right now.

First up, Anna Calvi’s self-titled debut album has been getting folks in a lather. While I haven’t heard it yet, on the basis of this very fibe track, I’m pretty anxious to. And nick cave and Jarvis Cocler are fans…what more could you possibly need?

Anna Calvi -‘Suzanne and I.’ mp3

Charles Bradley may be sixty-two, but he’s just about to release his debut album, entitled No Time For Dreaming. This is the first track from it, entitled ‘the World(Is Going Up In Flames)’ and it’s awesome. A classic bit of soul.

Charles Bradley -‘The World (Is Going Up In Flames).’ mp3

I’m pretty excited about Mogwai’s new album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, and I posted ‘Rano Pano’ from it before Christmas. Another track, entitled ‘San Pedro’ has been posted to download, from the album which is out on February 14 (15 in the US):

Mogwai -‘San Pedro.’ mp3

The video for Rano Pano can be seen here

Finally, PJ Harvey’s ‘The Word That Maketh Murder’ single is out now to download, from the forthcoming Let England Shake