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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
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 ›
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!
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.
this is the sophomore lp from antony & the johnsons and needless to say it really has to be heard to be believed...
in terms of style it recalls nina simone and lou reed. 'fistful of love' is the heart of this album and the collaboration with the aforementioned lou reed creates a staggering celebration of the joys of life as the tenor saxophone comes out in true new york blues cabaret style...
the striking thing about antony is his voice that lilts, then fluttres and then finally soars like on the startling 'for today i am a boy' that deserves hymn-like status. it is such a unique falsetto voice that the octaves he covers transcend the guest appearances on this album from rufus wainwright, lou reed, devendra banhart and boy george...
yes boy george! - he delivers a commendable and moving performance when duetting with antony on 'you are my sister', it very much feels like the albums success is against all the odds - but any analysis of end of year polls and such is rendered irrelevant when the beautiful human touches of this art really hit home...
the important thing here is aesthetics then and sonically the album is the greatest palate of emotion to surface since 1997 when spiritualized gave us 'ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space'...
an album of full powered soul overall and the feeling is very much raw and hot blooded. too independent to be grouped in relation to any so-called ''peers'' and certainly too cool for ally mcbeal, please get this, stick it on your stereo and you'll see exactly what is being discussed here...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought for my wife after she heard a cover of hope there's someone ,not my cup of tea but she really likes itPublished 2 months ago by Terry P.
Have only just received this cd, played it once and love Antony's voice.Published 11 months ago by Babette
It's quirky and different with Antony's voice but many of the songs on this cd are haunting.Published 12 months ago by R. Tunnah