This is one of those eras where we are fortunate to have a number of impressive individuals upon the scene. There is no doubt that Anna Calvi is at the forefront of these, with her trademark rich, textured blend of deeply evocative lyrics and atmospheric music performed in a voice whose range and scope covers a wide variety of human feelings. In the wake of the previous albums Anna Calviand One Breath, Strange Weather is a departure a collection of cover versions, featuring David Byrne on tracks 2 & 4. The choice is interesting, choosing those, who like Calvi have made or making their mark with a distinct style. Taking on a project of covers can be tricky. Sometimes they come across as just an attempt as impressions of the originals, other times as paint-by-number `Me' doing these songs because I can't think of anything else to do. The challenge is to bring your own interpretation and quality. The tracks are as follows; with names of original artists:
1. "Papi Pacify" (FKA Twigs) FKA Twigs is making her own mark in the electronic music world and shares, broadly, the ethereal element Anna Calvi brings to her own work. On this track the electronic signature of FKA Twigs is replaced by Calvi's more paired down approach. This is a quality interpretation. And though I'm not that knowledgeable of the genres FKA Twigs works in I would reckon this interpretation is equal to the original and there is room for both (Going to have to look into FKA Twig's work)
2. "I'm The Man, That Will Find You" (Connan Mockasin) Connah Mockasin is Connah Hosford's solo project and he works into the dream edge of the psychedelic style; which I'll be honest is not my `scene'(No detractions-we all have preferences). This is a sharper and edgy take. Very typical of Anna's signature that you would recognise from her two albums. David Bryne's contribution is in the chorus, this is very much Calvi at centre stage.
3. "Ghost Rider" (Suicide) Now Suicide as techno veteran that go back into the early 1970s and are one of those outfits who are not so popular with the general public but are and have been influential throughout their long career. Ghost Rider has been covered before. Anna Calvi takes this song with gusto, holding onto its fast pace, starting by positively breathing out the lyrics in a way that suggests she is going to let rip which comes out as sharp exclamations of verve. And there's bold unashamed guitar work worthy of the beat. Whole comes to sharp stop that jolts you.
4. "Strange Weather" (Keren Ann) Keren Ann is a Paris-based songwriter with an impressive catalogue of beautiful and soulful work, which has been adopted in so many TV and Film outings that we've probably heard her without knowing. (Somebody else whose work I must look into) Thus it seems only natural that Anna Calvi would select one of her songs. David Byrne's beautiful delivery is more prominent, although vocals are shared and harmonised to a perfect degree; sheer beauty A very moving interpretation which reminds this reviewer of Scott Walker (I say that without any implication).
5. "Lady Grinning Soul" (David Bowie) Now anyone taking on a Bowie song has a mighty task. Just what do you do? Will you be vilified for making a mess or just be written off as an impression with little to add to Bowie's own genius. Anna Calvi has taken the song, and with piano approaches this in her own deeply moving style, which has we know from her own work is impressive in its own right. Thus straight forward taking lyrics and tune and given the Calvi approach, and thus is very, very moving.
So although only E.P-ish in length, there is a wealthy of a quality and interpretation, you'll know full well your are listening to Anna Calvi, and I would suggest you will be delighted by the effort she puts into the other songs, and compliments their work with her own style.
If you are already a follower you will not be disappointed, the artist is producing quality. If you have not approached her albums, well this is a good place to start to hear the style she delivers.
(Now all I have to do is get `One Breath' again; CD not backed-up- long story-ah well)