- Audio CD (1 Dec. 2008)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Rough Trade
- ASIN: B0007GFG5Q
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,584 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
I Am A Bird Now
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Antony and the Johnsons' second full-length recording, the haunting and affecting I Am a Bird Now, is a far more intimate affair than their debut. Antony's bluesy parlour room cadence is more upfront here, resulting in a listening experience that's both exhilarating and disquieting. "Hope There's Someone" is a sombre opener, and its plea for companionship, augmented by a sparse piano/vocal arrangement that rises into the air by song's end in a swirl of multi-tracked harmonies, is ultimately uplifting. This formula is applied to too much of the record and never ceases to elicit honest emotion from either Antony or his numerous guests. Rufus Wainwright takes the lead on "What Can I Do?," a languid meditation on death that conjures up images of rainy streets, lonely lampposts, and cigar smoke--it's brief (under two minutes) but alluring like the cover of a Raymond Chandler novel. Boy George joins Antony for a duet on the soulful and empowering "You Are My Sister," Devendra Banhart lends his warbly tenor to the lush "Spiraling," and Lou Reed plays noodly guitar and recites an anonymous poem on the mischievous "Fistful of Love." It's a testament to Antony's skill as a writer and arranger that these guest appearances are completely devoid of pretence, and while each artist is reverent to the source material, it's still Antony's show, as the most powerful moments on I Am a Bird Now are his. --James Christopher Monger, All Music Guide
Top Customer Reviews
This is simply the finest album of the year. It's just devastating, to be honest it's sometimes a little too much to take...the way he sings 'I tell you I love you, and I always will...I know you can't tell me' during 'Fistful Of Love' kills me everytime I hear it...easily one of the finest soul songs of the last ten years, you can just feel the fragile desperation and need seep from every word. It's heartbreaking.
Like I said, it's not easy to place someone in your position and make them feel your particular pain through a collection of four minute songs, but this album has the honesty and beauty to do just that...it aches for your attention.
From the Peter Hujar photo, Candy Darling On Her Deathbead, that adorns the sleeve, to some of the subject matter - breast amputation (My Lady Story), domestic violence (Fistful Of Love) and gender confusion (For Today I Am A Boy) - it might appear to be a hard shell to crack, but what makes I Am A Bird Now all the more compelling is that Antony is able to take what are profoundly personal words and transform them into something highly ambiguous and hugely accessible.
Nonetheless, it is Antony's voice that, for many, is the main draw. Equal parts Nina Simone, Labi Siffre, Billie Holiday and Jimmy Scott, Antony sings with such sadness, such belief, such frailty and such authority that he could be singing about anything and it wouldn't matter. Even better then, that the lyrics should be so affecting and challenging.
It's somewhat fitting an album which, more than anything, draws on feelings of isolation and loneliness should have such a stellar cast of supporting players. Long-time Antony champion, Lou Reed, adds an unpretentious and almost terse spoken word intro to Fistful Of Love, before Antony delivers a heartbreaking account of domestic abuse ("I feel your fist and I know it's out of love"). Immediately afterwards, Devendra Banhart adds some disturbing incantations to the beginning of the staggering Spiralling.
Just preceding those two songs is What Can I Do?Read more ›
Antony and the Johnsons will never appeal to everyone. Like Bjork or Kate Bush, either Antony’s voice will speak to you or it won’t. You will get it or you wont. As it is, this collection of moving songs touched the part of me that knows loneliness and disappointment, the part of me that has experienced triumph despite adversity, the part of me that craved a real singer with something to say. I have listened to this Cd for most of the year, and each time it touches me, and each time I find something new. I hope Antony keeps making these personal yet universal songs for years to come.
If you are looking for something mainstream, or think you're musically cultured because you like Coldplay, this album may go right over your head or even upset you.
If you want something different this is it!
The instrumental backing throughout the album is sparse and simplistic, mainly centred around piano and strings. This type of instrumentation compliments Antonys style of singing perfectly as it does not draw attention away from his voice.
Overall I'd definately reccommend this album, although it will have to 'grow' on some people.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Have only just received this cd, played it once and love Antony's voice.Published 5 months ago by Babette
It's quirky and different with Antony's voice but many of the songs on this cd are haunting.Published 5 months ago by R. Tunnah