When I first heard Anna Calvi’s music in 2008 I was instantly in awe of what I heard. She makes the kind of music that causes your head to jolt back and your jaw drop. I suppose it’s not the most attractive physical attribute to attain in public, which is why it’s safer to just listen at home with no one around.
I remember hearing Blackout and her cover of Jezebel in 2009; I was enthralled with the big drums and the romantic sound of her voice. What made me fall in love so quickly with her music was how dark, intense and dominant it was. I loved how her music made me feel I was wandering through a creepy and devilish film set, like a “film noir” or even something distinctly twisted such as a David Lynch film. For me, her music feels like a mini-movie, a dramatisation. Her music is so intense; it makes you feel on constant edge (in a good way) as you listen to it.
When you watch live clips of her or even actually see her live you are drawn to have passionately she performs on stage and her presence. She doesn’t have to say anything to the audience; you are just immediately captured by her music. That’s just how it should be.
As I listen to her album, I find it breathtaking and inspiring that something so grand can be someone’s debut album. This is why I regard it to be the best debut this year and quite possibly the only debut album to cause such emotions since Florence’s debut, Lungs back in 2009.
It is easy to compare the tow due to them both having powerful voices that hurl you into a different world. But that is the only comparison.
I love how there are slight twinges of vengeance in Anna’s voice, a monster of a feeling takes over as you listen to songs such as Desire. “It’s just the Devil taking my hand to the fire” I love the way she puts across the feelings that desire causes us to feel and the things it makes us do. Sometimes when you desire something or someone it just causes you to do daft things. However, I don’t need to feel this way to do daft things.
She’s toured with the likes of Interpol, Nick Cave and Kaki King- all this and she’s only one album into her career.
Her music has a ritualistic chant feel mixed with heavy drums, it’s a sound that many have tried to create and at times failed. They just get it wrong. They let certain parts take over and no talent comes out.
This doesn’t happen with Anna Calvi’s music. Maybe I am slightly biased due to her also having Italian genes. It’s the best gene to have I reckon, again- being biased but still. Anyway, her music. Her music is just perfect. She has a strong, big voice that just throws you. With a lot of female singers they seem to warble to show how strong their voice is, but when they do this they lose the power they could potentially posses. Anna doesn’t do this, it just sounds so effortlessly grand. When you listen to songs such a Suzanne and I, her voice is so, and I hate to bloody say it, but it’s so seductive. You could just sit playing her album with someone you are fond of- but to be honest; I’d just keep my attention on the music and not the other person. That’s just how I am, it explains a lot. I refuse to change though. Music is more constant than a person really.
First We Kiss is so poetic and dark. The album has quite an old fashioned feel to it. You could imagine music like this being played during the Victorian era when they had parties that were so decadent and never discussed to the outside world.
The build-up in First We Kiss is so gripping, the whole album is. It has a hold of you, but you don’t want to loosen the grip. You want to keep it as tight as possible until you gasp for air, but even then you want to keep hold onto it. It just takes over you- your body and soul. Her music just owns every part of you. It makes you feel you are in the scenarios she creates with her music.
Aside from having one of the best voices I have ever heard, Anna Calvi is a fantastic guitar player. When you watch her play she makes it seem so effortless. I cannot put into words just how beautiful the sound it. It sounds so viciously haunting. It really comes across on the track, The Devil.
What I love about her music is that you can tell that no specific genre or singer has influenced her music. Yes she has the dark lyrics and feel to her music with comparison to Nick Cave. However, she has this soul-gripping voice like Edith Piaf. I cannot and will not throw her music into any genre/sub-genre at all, it’d be impossible to do so, and that is exactly what makes an artist like Anna Calvi so good and much needed in music right now.
In an ideal world, music like this would take over. But an ideal world will never exist, that’s why you can lose yourself in music like this. Her music just moves you and inspires you in ways you didn’t think music could right now. Her voice is so much stronger and a billion times more soulful than what is being (unfortunately) played on certain radio stations. It’s why I don’t listen to them. In a few weeks the winner of the Mercury Music Prize will be announced. By rights, Anna Calvi should win. Not because I love her music but looking at the list (bar PJ Harvey of course) she is the only one that is doing something different. She is the only one creating music so dark and atmospheric right now, and it is something that needs to be recognised. Guaranteed if she was to win, she’d be one of the few that are actually remembered in years to come. But, awards aren’t everything nor are the important. All that matters is that singers like Anna Calvi exist.