I see that this album is creating many different reactions, from rave reviews to outright ridicule. Great! Any artist that polarises opinion must have something going on. Look at Elvis, the Rolling Stones, and the Sex Pistols. I remember my dad being outraged at a painted David Bowie in the 70’s…”Is that a boy or a girl!” If you only ever had artists that lots of people like, you end up with a world full of Robbie Williams. 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.
WOW, listening to this for the first time was the audio equivalent of driving past a traffic accident, I didn't think I wanted to listen but couldn't stop myself. I can't think of anything to compare this to. I'm not especially fond of piano ballads, certainly have nothing in common with an emotionally tortured 7 foot tall transvestite and can't say that I related to any of the lyrics at all. So when I say that this album is a masterpiece and is one of the most original albums I have ever heard, you may get an idea of just what genius this is. 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!
It's been said before, but Antony has the most amazing voice. Completely original which is why it is such a love/hate sound. To be honest on my first listen i thought the voice ruined it, but then the more i listened to it the more i loved it. The subject matter of the album is particularly moving as it comes across as completely heartfelt and sincere, each song filled with a mixture of pain and hope as Antony struggles to come to terms with what he is and what he wants to become.
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.
I might look back in a year or two and find this review naive or plain wrong, with the passing of time... but at this proximity to first hearing I Am A Bird Now, it seems to me to be a very important, landmark album. Once every 10 years or so, an artiste appears who pushes the boundaries so hard that they generate extreme responses from music listeners. Antony Hegarty seems to be the latest. Personally, I'm captivated by his voice in a way that noone since Jeff Buckley, at his best, has done...and frankly, he's far more left-field than Buckley in his sound, appearance and message (at least to a middle of the road music lover like me!) But I love this album. It's patchy in parts, but the best bits merit a 5 star review and I believe time will show it to be a classic. Hope There's Someone is a haunting song of yearning for love - it's appeal universal for anyone who can listen without the bigoted ears some reviewers seem to have. For Today I'm a Boy is just stunning - both lyrically and musically. It's simplicity is beguiling - great art often is. The duets with Boy George (You Are My Sister) and Lou Reed (Fistful of Love - great horn section) work particularly well, but Antony is central to the success of each song. Antony's voice is the obvious star of this album, but the piano-playing and production support it well. I'd love to hear these songs performed live...they have captivated me in a way that only the greatest, most soulful music has before!
I saw Anthony and the Johnsons perform on a T.V. chat show- only one song but they sounded interesting. I am 56 and have what you would call mainstream tastes but I just can't stop playing this album. It's the combination of his voice and the quality of the songs- only one dud in my opinion ( Free at Last). It's just brilliant- buy it , play it and , for all the right reasons, you won't be able to get it out of your head. Anthony sounds a tortured soul but artists often produce their best material when they're unhappy- Van Morrison for example