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on 7 September 2017
Just love the voice
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on 21 January 2009
Antony and the Johnsons' 'I Am A Bird Now' knocked me sideways. I first heard it a few years ago at about 2 a.m. on the BBC World Service. That is about the right time of day to listen to Antony. It was clearly intensely personal, and deeply affective - it made me cry.

The e.p. 'Another World' promised much, and it revealed that the Johnsons could portray more than a solitary suffering. It started to seem that, maybe, the Johnsons were on the same sort of trajectory on which you might also find Sam, from Rick's Cafe Americain, perhaps Hoagy Carmichael from 'The Best Years Of Our Lives', and then on into Ricki Lee Jones at 'The Last Chance Texaco' with Tom Waits looking for 'Small Change'. Cocktail-sodden night clubs in the wee hours, only the drunks and the waitresses listening to the crooner slouched over his piano.

But this album adds a twist to that. We have the track 'Another World' from the e.p. but now situated in something more than the night club. Inclusion of a small chamber orchestra, clarinet, flute, tenor sax, electric guitar, very tight vocal harmonies, and some strange nearly-musical effects, take this from the night club into a slightly more surreal world; in places almost reaching a sort of Angelo Badalamenti dreamscape.

Antony's journey through a velvet nightclub world is as strange and, at times, as disturbing as any David Lynch film -

Epilepsy is dancing
She's the Christ now departing
And I'm finding my rhythm
As I twist in the snow

- giving enormous poignancy to his cry for 'Daylight and the Sun' -

There was no light
Only the white night
First born when the sun
Screamed her eyes open
Daylight in the fields
Daylight mountains
Fire kisses the floor
Of the lakes and makes shadows

This is certainly no 'Last Exit to Brooklyn. Finally, Everglade has an almost pastoral feel, oboes and strings, slipping into major keys, soft horns -

When I'm peeping in a parlour of trees
And the leaves are winking all around
"I'm home," my heart sobs in my veins
But brains they play the softest games

Fingers kiss the string
Mouth taste the blade
Of everglade

- not quite white picket fences, but as close as Antony has yet managed. ;-)
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on 20 January 2009
i truly loved anthonys debut album, which for sure is one of the best albums of the last ten years. very original, beautiful instrumentation, and a collection of exceptionally strong songs. the follow up 'i am a bird now' i didnt get at all. the songs were weaker, the instrumentation sparser, anthonys voice sounded different and the songs were mostly angsty-sexuality things. plus it had the god-awful boy george on it! this album is a return to the form of the debut in many ways, but with the exception of a few songs, the material is still weaker - though stronger than 'bird' - anthonys voice has returned and also the nice instrumentation of the debut

standout tracks are'her eyes are underneath the ground' 'one dove' 'daylight and the sun' and especially 'another world'

anthony remains very original and interesting and for that he should be applauded. i guess that debut was just too high a template to try and match!
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on 28 May 2009
Yet again, Antony has not disappointed us. This album brought tears to my eyes. I have yet to listen to any other artist who I can compare to Antony's utter brilliance. Not only do you have Antony's fantastic voice, the band is truely fabulous too. The music is hauntingly beautiful. I loved this long awaited new album and can't wait for the next one. I was lucky enough to see Antony and the Johnsons last weekend at Birmingham Symphony Hall and I was mesmerised. I had tears in my eyes, the music blew me away, as did, as always Antony's voice. Come back soon Antony, there is no-one else to match you. I could have listened all night.
If you haven't listened to Antony and the Johnsons before, buy this album and see for yourself. They are like no other - thankfully. Never stop Antony, you are my hero.
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on 30 July 2012
A handful of artists are able to take your breath away when they sing, perform and compose - Antony And The Johnsons are able to do just that. Their third album "The Crying Light" is such a beautiful album with tear jerking melodies, emotional vocals from Antony and varied orchestral and piano led arrangements, making it their most accomplished release to date.

"Her Eyes Are Underneath The Ground" is a very beautiful and haunting song with emotional vocals from Antony and lovely gentle piano arrangements, a track that instantly puts this album on the map and is one of my favorites. "Epilepsy Is Dancing" is a strange and intriguing creation with interesting orchestral arrangements and plaintive vocals. "One Dove" is more of the same, with gentle yet captivating melody, music and vocals with the addition of faint drum beats and bass. "Kiss My Name" is a much more rhythmic song with swirling string arrangements, a heavy percussion and poignant singing. The acoustic guitar led title track "The Crying Light" has a lullaby feel to it and is just as effective as all of the other compositions. My favorite song on this album is "Another World" which sends chills up my spine and raises the hair on my arms each time I listen to it - it is probably the best song they have released with a heartfelt melody, beautiful vocals and soft piano led arrangements. "Daylight And The Sun" is a powerful creation with penetrating piano notes, thick layered vocal harmonies and somptuous orchestral sounds, making it the third highlight. It is swiftly followed by the fourth highlight "Aeon" which is an electric guitar led ballad with a strong Blues arrangement and a great melody and the fifth highlight "Dust And Water", a mesmerising near A Capella Folk inspired song with Antony's heartfelt vocals and gentle humming simply accompanying him. The final track "Everglade" is a thoughful orchestral song adding a heavy dose of emotion to this already passionate affair.

Many albums fail to deliver any emotion and passion but, in that department, "The Crying Light" surpasses them all. Antony And The Johnsons have created a recording that allows the listener to feel vulnerable and in tune with their own emotions and sensitivities. This album can be put on replay many times and will not lose it's appeal - an instant classic and a true work of art.
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on 25 February 2013
It would be possible to write much in the way of ecstatic praise about this album. But any amount of words could not equal its strength. It soars with a depth of spirit that's rarely encountered anywhere, let alone in popular music. It may not be the most upbeat album you've heard but if upbeat's what you're after you'll find it wall to wall in the manufactured pop section so move down the bus please. Antony Hegarty has the most extraordinary and beautiful voice, ethereal but as real as that glass in your hand. This is music to move the bones of you. You'll long to hear more. Antony Hegarty was a name written immediately in my diary after I heard him on TV backing Lou Reed on 'Perfect Day'. Life intervened and I did nothing for months, then I came across the name again. If you want to be found by Antony, you will be. This is music that will reach out to your heart and soul.
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on 28 August 2009
I never heard of antony before i saw him on the tv in holland. He played with the metropool orchestra, it was a revelation.

He looked kinda strange, in a white dress, but when he started to sing, i was mesmerized. I could not change the station anymore, i had to listen.

I bought all his work the following day, it is such a intense feeling to listen to him sing. It's music from the heart to the heart
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on 15 March 2010
Although `The Crying Light' is another good album from Antony and the Johnsons, I have found it moves me a lot less than `I am a Bird Now' or their debut. It's hard to put your finger on quite why this is so as it has a similar feel to the other two albums and you still get Antony's unique vocals and song-writing style, but something seems to be missing this time round. But only slightly. The strings are more to the fore on this album and really shine through throughout making things sound more lush and they compliment everything perfectly. My favourite track has to be `Another World' where Antony's voice and the piano together sound raw and heartfelt, just like how I adore from the previous albums. This was a long time in the making and for fans of Antony and the Johnsons this will be as worthy addition to your collection, but if you are new to them then I suggest you try `I Am A Bird Now' first and then come to this at a later date. Overall this is a solid album.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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on 25 January 2009
And now for something completely different. I always think it is wrong when writing reviews to assume that everyone reading them is knowledgeable about that particular artist. There are still relatively few people aware of the work of Anthony Hegarty despite the originality of his 2005 Mercury Prize winner "I Am A Bird Now". It's certainly worth checking out. This is the follow up. It's difficult to describe Hegarty's voice. Probably Nina Simone is the closest in sound and that alone might give you some idea of the gender bending involved here and previously.

This is a difficult album to comment on as it's a mixture of under-stated songs about flowers and the world in general mixed with theatricality. You have to delve beyond the sparseness of some of the music and melodies. There's nothing comfortable about what Antony delivers.

On Epilepsy is Dancing he opines "cut me in quadrants, leave me in the corner." Lyrically it's an expansive album about freedom, peace, life and death. The collection of songs is dedicated to Japanese butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno. Apparently butoh is a diverse range of activities, techniques and motivations for dance inspired by Ankoku Butoh (so now you know). Thank goodness that there are people in this world prepared to push the boundaries of art and music. Antony and the Johnsons do it in a subtle and undemanding way amidst some strange instrumentation. Give this one a try. You'll either love it or hate it.
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on 25 February 2009
If `The Johnsons' was a weak stab at genitalia-based humour, the tears shed on this album are therefore ones of `happiness'. Joking aside, Antony Hegarty's beauty contained in `The Crying Light' is sufficient to reduce the listener to warm tears. The music possesses that same warmth that only Richard Hawley can imbue in a piece, the vocals are finally well pitched.

Where I Am a Bird Now squawked and screeched, `The Crying Light' coos. Yes, Hegarty still sounds like a eunuch minstrel, but the fingers-down-chalkboard grating that some detractors identified in early work is here toned down into a soothing warble. As is the music, and the two are well suited. `The Crying Light' is more mute than earlier work, in parts more restrained and elsewhere much richer thanks to calling in favours from his classical friends. It is pitched more squarely, away from the contemporary edge, and as such is less challenging than the debut and all better for it.

The orchestral inclusions: the piano, the alternating light and menacing strings, the woodwind: all are perfect for Sunday-morning paper reading and quiet but soaring introspection. That alone should supply enough to decide whether a purchase is required.

`Another World' and `Daylight & The Sun' are piano-led masterpieces, every bit as beautiful as Nick Cave's No More Shall We Part, the latter perhaps one of the most poignant pieces ever committed to posterity. Hegarty's sublimely neutered, tear-jerking is present throughout. `Aeon' even embraces electric guitar to accompany the swelling sound, and there is no better example in Hegarty's work of his heart being firmly on sleeve. This is the sound of a man entirely comfortable with his ability and with himself.

Antony Hegarty is a special talent that has finally matured to fruition. His Mercury-winning past was deserved, and this is one step beyond; mercury is also known as quicksilver, and now `The Crying Light' can be synonymous with gold.
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