Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking, 16 Dec 2013
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This review is from: One Breath (Audio CD)
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.
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Location: Brighton, East Sussex

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