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Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi
Anna Calvi
Domino Records

Bursting at the seams with passion, atmosphere, seduction and beauty, Anna Calvi’s debut is a velvet encased gem delivered straight from dimly lit backstreet burlesque clubs. Seductive guitar tones and surges of wild euphoria drift through ten sexually charged tracks.

In reality, the album was not made in such captivating circumstances as the sound suggests, but rather as a result of Anna locking herself in a basement in Fulham. The dark sophistication came not from her surroundings but from within an evocatively artistic brain.

Opener ‘Rider to the Sea’ is dripping with rich colour and guitars descending from the Hendrix school of instrumental love making. This flows effortlessly into ‘No More Words’, the first example of Anna’s ability to change the pace and slow a track right down to a serene minimalism, before angelic backing vocals proceed to lift you from your seat.

Desire’ builds into a hugely uplifting vocal, which oozes Patti Smith-esque presence as you hang on to her every word. Like the previous track, big fan and unofficial mentor Brian Eno provides backing vocals on ‘Suzanne and I’, a track awash wish dreamy guitar and haunting reverb.

Empty space plays a huge part in the feel of the album. Pockets of near silence give way to Anna’s soft vocals and when she belts it out there is a realisation, a notification that we are listening to a talent to behold. Just as the silence is important, Anna’s ambition to create an orchestral sound from just a guitar, drums and a harmonium, has really come to life on this record. Who needs an orchestra when you have a reverb pedal and a gut instinct for textured sound.

Carefully calculated sound effects and samples play wonderfully on the ears and give the record even more depth and poignancy. One of Anna’s biggest talents is her ability to convey the meaning of a song instrumentally, a trait no more evident than on the lyrically sparse ‘The Devil’ a fittingly morose ballad at the heart of the record.

Right at the death the musical wasteland of ‘Morning Light’ acts as a long intro to the album closer ‘Love Won’t Be Leaving’, five and a half minutes of intense heart pouring into a letter written to a lost love, a heart-wrenching end to an incredible album. Anna’s musical intelligence and sophistication mixed with seductive prowess is there for all to see in this powerful debut, it’ll leave you walking around Soho at midnight reflecting on lost love, either that or looking for a basement in Fulham.

Mark Beckett.