Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi (Domino)

Alastair Ballentyne gets a little self-indulgent with Anna Calvi.

Released Feb 27th, 2011 via Domino / By Alastair Ballentyne
Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi (Domino) This self-titled debut album is already sending waves through the industry with Anna Calvi being tipped by the BBC as one to watch this year, I decided to check out her album out of pure curiosity and was pleasantly surprised.

The first thing I was struck by was the production, it makes the stripped back ensemble sound gigantic, plus Anna Calvi can certainly play the guitar and is rather reminiscent of Jeff Buckley and Sir Keef in places too. As a guitar player I am drawn to her idiosyncratic approach to the instrument and her guitar tones, they’re captivating and tickle me in all the right places.

I’m going to cut to the chase and talk about my favourite songs:

‘Rider to the sea’; I love it that the album opens with an instrumental, and a particularly brooding chaotic one at that.

‘Desire’ reminded me of Arcade Fire in all the right ways and with better vocal delivery! It also appealed to that part of me that loves things that sound massive, plus the song itself is uplifting and well written.

‘The Devil’ is a beautifully crafted and at times unsettling song, there is a masterful command of musical light and shade in this song. It is broken up between softer sung segments and overwhelming vocal crescendos underpinned by Calvi’s rolling guitar chords making for a powerful experience. By the four minute mark the song is wide open before falling back abruptly at its end.

‘Blackout’ is a complete contrast to the previous track with its more upbeat feel and rhythm, the two tracks offset each other well. The vocal delivery and harmonies are the standout elements in this track for me, quite off the wall in places. The song builds in layers resulting in a fine slab of sound by its climax.

‘Love won’t be leaving’ was a good choice to close the album, it has all the hallmarks of a great closing track as well as sounding like a condensed version of the album in one song. The string arrangement and the development of this song are things of beauty which we know are a joy forever.

Overall the album is a fine debut, Anna Calvi will go far I am sure of it. There is one thing Anna Calvi has over a lot of new artists and that is delicacy and grit, an odd but enduring combination. Although I’d like to see her live, the album does sound a bit samey in places but then most artists seem to have the A&R men breathing down their necks to provide a cohesive ‘product’ but don’t let that put you off as it is a fine album none the less.