on 19 October 2013
i've been anticipating the release of this for over a year now. anna's self titled first album was pretty much the album of the year for me last year. i barely had it off rotation, and when i did, it was primarily for artists i already knew and was already in love with.
when you have so much expectation placed on something that might not have even been completed yet (or in the case of 'one breath', being created at the time) because human expectation has a habit of ruining things for many of us. still, we do it and in doing so, take away the enjoyment of new things that stand alone and separate from what we already love.
'one breath' holds up. it's an entirely different and new experience. even though it's only her second album, anna calvi has a sound that is purely her own. with so much music around these days (something that should never end) it's difficult to carve an identity. the track listing reads like a book, the music and lyrics both take you on a journey whether you close your eyes or not, but the tracks stand alone on their own too.
great piece of art.
on 7 October 2013
Have had this album for a few days now as I preordered my copy direct from Domino Records & got a signed copy. If you loved Anna's debut album you will love this also,it has all of her trademark guitar playing & singing but with more added to the mix. There are more percussive sounds,keyboards, strings, and generally more layers to the songs but there's that thunderous guitar riffing that initially on a couple of songs sounds totally wild and off the wall but gives that dark edge that makes her music so exciting. It is similar to PJ Harvey at times and some of the percussive sounds and noises remind me of Tom Waits Bone Machine. There isn't really a track on the album that i dislike and its a confident follow up from her debut album that doesn't disappoint. On first listen I thought maybe there was too much going on production wise but it gets better the more you listen and shows what a truly exciting and talented musician she is. Can't wait for the tour
on 29 January 2014
I found this album to be six of one and half a dozen of the other. When it's good it's sublime. The way tracks such as 'Sing to me' and 'Carry me Over' build to their climax is brilliant, beautiful, bravura. But when it's bad, like the track 'Piece by Piece' it verges on self-indulgent twaddle and you wonder how an album can oscillate between these extremes? Mind you, beauty is in the ear of the listener and my rhubarb might be your crumble. Six of the tracks are absolutely knock-out and on their own are worth the money. Maybe with time the tracks that feel like experimental filler will grow on repeated listening. Oh, and the packaging is quite lush for those who appreciate such things.
on 23 October 2013
Several times over the last fortnight, as I've slowly got to grips with Anna Calvi's second album, I couldn't help but remember an apocryphal tale of an early Banshees rehearsal, at which the new boy John McGeoch was asked by Siouxsie for the sound of a horse falling off a cliff. Ever the gentleman he duly obliged, and went on to provide many more such equine disasters across much of their classic work. I mention it not as a lazy "she's a bit goff like Siouxsie" comparison, but to draw parallels with what is evidently Anna's fearless approach to sonic experimentation.
For anyone who loved Anna's debut album - and I did - there is plenty here to love too. That widescreen sound which calls to mind any number of technicolour westerns, Wim Wenders movies or Ennio Morricone soundtracks is still present in spades, most evidently on the sublime "Sing to Me", which effortlessly manages the most difficult of tricks; that of a song you feel you've known forever on first listen. Hushed whispers, dramatic crescendos, soaring vocals that border on the operatic... tick, tick and also tick. This time around there are lush orchestral string arrangements too, used to particularly exquisite effect on the title track as a release to the tension she herself has built up.
One Breath, however, is altogether a much grittier, messier and more visceral affair than its predecessor. There's a sense of growing confidence as an artist throughout the album, evidenced by Anna's preparedness to rip apart the very structure of a song, baring the blood and bones of it to us, and leaving the carcass in her wake. "Show me where it hurts!" she cries, before swerving to avoid the roadkill. (So THAT'S where the horse landed...) Even the sonic space itself, the one she constructs so meticulously, is abruptly slammed out on the intensely claustrophobic "Love of My Life" - the one moment I took the headphones off going "what the f..?"....before finding out it was already stuck in my head. Oh-OHH!!
There's plenty more - the one note in "Bleed Into Me" that reduced this grown man to tears, the ethereal angelic choir that dissipates like the mist... in fact I was quite astonished when I noticed the whole thing clocked in at just under 40 minutes; I felt like I'd been wrung out to dry.
Ultimately this album is the one thing I didn't even dare hope for - a departure, and a challenge. Yes, I know, that's two things - so sue me, it's half four in the morning.
As someone who enjoyed Anna Calvi's début album a lot, I was looking forward to seeing whether she could follow it up with something quite as good. I'll cut to the chase - forget accomplishing something as good as her eponymous début, she has, in my opinion, probably bettered it. "One Breath" is an utterly magnificent piece of work, a series of powerful, dramatic, edgy compositions that radiate such beauty and artistry, it often takes your breath away. This exemplary piece of work could almost be described as a cross between the grandiose sound of Florence & The Machine and the edginess and left-field nature of Arcade Fire; I'm sure that lovers of both bands will find much to enjoy here, as well as those who bought and enthused about Anna's first album. "One Breath" is an album that I've found difficult to stop playing since I bought it, one of those rare beasts that is excellent from start to finish and that not only bears repeat playing, it demands it. It's not often that, when an album finishes, do I want to put it back on and enjoy it all over again, but Calvi's second album does that to me.
This album is song after song of atmospheric, crescendo-laden, orchestrally minded, artistic genius. "Suddenly" is a fantastic opener, a powerful, atmospheric piece with a rather catchy chorus, "Eliza" thumps, stomps, soars and is utterly magnificent artistic indie and the slow-burning "Piece By Piece" has rhythms and a feel reminiscent of "Hounds Of Love" era Kate Bush. "Cry" is a superb song that has some heart-stopping moments where the music literally explodes from the speakers whereas "Sing To Me" is a hauntingly beautiful song with a wintry feel and Calvi's voice drifts over the music like a sea-bird over the ocean. The irrepressible "Tristan", possibly the most commercial piece on the album, reminds me of Sinead O'Connor, although, in my opinion, a lot better. Title track "One Breath" starts with whispered lyrics and slowly adds instrumental layers until the classical-influenced instrumental epilogue, "Love Of My Life" is a blustery, bombastic, brilliant composition, the kind of song Arcade Fire excelled at, at the start of their career and "Carry Me Over" ebbs and flows gorgeously with Anna's beauteous vocals being poured over harp (or harp-like) arpeggios. The penultimate song, "Bleed Into Me" is an expansive, sumptuous composition with natural, flowing rhythms that seem to echo the ocean's tides and the album finishes with "The Bridge", a delicate piece of choral music that seems almost like something you would hear in a church or cathedral.
Anna Calvi has most definitely risen to the challenge of the "difficult second album" and has produced a dark, edgy, beautiful, mature and fully accomplished piece of work, arguably even better than her much loved and critically acclaimed début. "One Breath" is an album that I have fallen deeply in love with, a highly original, intricate and artistic project that takes the listener on an emotional journey throughout the eleven individually remarkable songs. It is also a piece of work that manages to be, as a whole, greater than the sum of its individual components and the kind of album you really need to listen to in the old-fashioned, linear way to fully appreciate the dynamics and context of the songs. Admittedly, there are breathtaking tracks which you can enjoy in isolation, but, overall, Anna Calvi's truly excellent second release is a perfect example of why the album format really cannot be allowed to die. With such an excellent follow-up, the multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist has cemented her credentials as one of the most exciting, emotive and interesting voices making music today. There are very few albums that have been released this year that I would deem essential listening, but this is one of them; buy and enjoy.
on 12 October 2013
I really, really had high expectations for this second offering. I loved the raw feeling of the first album, with Anna's seemingly indomitable voice and her guitar-based compositions. Some of the songs on that first album were almost spoiled by the production - wind/hoover noises in Love Won't Be Leaving anyone? - and I do feel the production has taken over completely on One Breath.
Tracks merge into one another until you suddenly reach the end of the CD, and it's like waking up from a dream you can't quite remember. I am only left with a hollow feeling. Was that the intention of the artist? I will look up some live renditions of this new material, perhaps the songs come to life on stage.
I have given this a few listens now, and things haven't got better. I will keep listening to the first CD, which I love as I said, but next time I will not rush and pre-order without listening on Spotify first.
EDIT: I've added another star just for the sake of two gems such as "Sing to Me" and "The Bridge", the only songs where the overegging has been kept at bay.
on 13 October 2013
This is potentially a very great artist...This, the 2nd album is wonderful, by it seems an artist that isn't going to sell out to corporate demands and is going to take her time so that what is released is as she requires and is quality. Such a staggering voice that erupts like a volcano and stunning guitar from this petite, shy and very likeable, humble young woman. This, like the first record is great...look Anna up on You Tube too because, believe it or not, her live stuff might be even better. I hope she becomes huge.