Top critical review
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on 20 August 2010
Antony's follow-up to "The Crying Light" has been recorded very quickly. We were ready to wait another four years before a new album came out but, surprisingly, "Swanlights" will be with us in less than two months.
Is this new e.p. a suitable hors d'oeuvre?
- "Thank You For Your Love" is the song that will also be part of the new record. Here we find Antony in a very soulful, Otis Redding-inflected mood. Accompanied by a solid beat and a horn section, he winds his pristine vocals around a laconic, poignant lyric, leading the track towards a crescendo that sounds positively baffling on first listen, but that later on becomes lovelier and lovelier. Not a dramatic departure in style, though, and definitely one of his most commercial singles.
- "You Are The Treasure" and "My Lord, My Love" are piano-led ballads, the former very short and repetitive, the latter just a little more complex with the addition of strings and a slow, brushed beat. They are pleasant enough, but the general effect is Antony by numbers.
- "Pressing On", a Bob Dylan song, comes presumably from one of Mr Zimmerman's christian albums. This is a charming, shimmering version, built around a suspended mesh of light percussions and gently strummed guitars, as usual graced by Antony's fragrant tones.
- "Imagine" is - you have probably guessed it - a composition by Mr Lennon. It seems an absurd choice for a cover and - in our humble opinion - a definite drop in credibility on Antony's part. Why bother with such a worn out "classic", a song that is usually trundled out whenever poeple feel like stating the obvious? Do we need Antony to be this obvious to be accepted by the mainstream?
That said, he gets away with it (nearly) unscathed. His version is very understated, with just his voice, a slowly plucked guitar (no piano) and a wave of sounds / echoes to create a ghostly atmosphere. In this context even the ad nauseam praised lyrics take on a vague hint of interest and seem more attuned to our oppressed zeitgeist: less stadium sing-along, more intimate reflection.
This debatable cover, however, turns out to be the only "innovation" on this offering, that otherwise tends to upset no applecarts in Antony's artistry.
Will the new album toe the tried-and-tested, complacent line? Or is this just a way to lure listeners into a braver work?
We will soon know. For the moment, we can only thank Mr Hegarty for two of these five songs.