Of all the records that have come out this year, and will come out this year, I am so sure that none are going to have such a hold on me as Hunter by Anna Calvi does. With one listen, I was hooked. It’s as cinematic masterpiece. Multiple listens, and my queer heart could burst with sheer joy at this beautiful masterpiece. Without sounding clichéd, this is Anna’s best record to date. Nothing can shadow this glorious piece of art. The songs are vulnerable and show sides to human nature that most would shy away from. The only way for me to get my thoughts down about this record is to just go in track by track. It’s going to be really long, but I’m not sorry for that at all. It deserves more than just words from a fan like me. It’s a perfect record that will just blow your mind in ways you didn’t think were possible.
If you’re going to stick with this, then get comfortable. Maybe play the record as you read this. Ready?
As A Man: The intro to this sets the mood of the whole record. The way it starts so intense and moody, then all of a sudden Anna’s voice comes in and possess you. She can do vocals that soothe you but she can also be utterly brutal with how bold she makes her voice. She reminds me of Shirley Manson. She isn’t afraid to show all emotions and voice them in a way that has a grip on you. The video to As A Man was released yesterday, and it is again, another work of art. I think this is such an important song, well the whole record is, because it touches on gender and sexuality, and society’s take on it all. I can truly connect with so much Anna says on this record, and this song truly shows the strength in her vocals and her lyrics. It’s so powerful and so important.
Hunter: This is the second song to be released off the record, and the video captures every emotion in this song possible. It fucks with gender, it fucks with society and it challenges you. That’s how it should be. Nothing is ever how it should be, and having these thoughts and feelings expressed in this way by Anna is beautiful. Her vocals on Hunter are so gentle. You almost feel like this is a lullaby for those who are free in who they are and those who are on the edge of doing so. It is such a gorgeous song that explores everything to do with love, lust, passion and all that it entails. You shut your eyes whilst listening to this and you can imagine someone, or yourself, freely exploring the world around them and who they are. Again, it is such an important song and the video does the song justice. The video really does expose the song to its very core and is so stripped back and open. Like I’ve mentioned already, it’s a work of art.
Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy: Sometimes when a band or singer have a lead single from their new record, it can get overlooked because it doesn’t seem new anymore. However, Anna has not fallen for this on the record. Hearing this song on the record with the previous and others following fits so well. I feel like this record is the journey of someone exploring freedom, feelings, sexuality and gender. This song is such an important part of the record, and it’s just an important song in general. Let people be fragile irrespective of their gender, it shouldn’t be that one gender can be tough but the others have to be weaker. It doesn’t work like that. I love the romanticism in this song, and it is something that has always been obvious in Anna’s music. She’s like Nick Cave in that she takes her views on love etc., and portrays them in a way that is unconventional to some but me personally, it is what I truly connect with. I still can’t get enough of this song.
Indies Or Paradise: Back to my Nick Cave reference quickly, this song has the same eeriness that Stagger Lee has. It’s got that raw darkness and massive sound to it. It’s one of my favourites, although I can’t possibly pick one for sure. I love how it’s such a dirty feeling song. It’s got this sweat-soaked smuttiness to it that I absolutely adore. It feels like stepping into something you normally wouldn’t and she exposes these strange feelings of lust and passion in such a grand way. Then she just annihilates the guitar after the two minute mark, then she almost whispers the words and you feel like she is behind you whispering in your ear. It’s insane- I love how this song has so much to offer the listener. There’s the heavy drums and the intense guitar, but all along it is Anna’s voice and lyrics that make it. It’s her words. Her words are like my favourite poets (think Rimbaud and Poe) and her voice is such a joy to listen to. Play this to your lover.
Swimming Pool: We’re now at the halfway mark of the record, and this is the song that could easily be performed without music, and delivered as a poem. The song makes you feel as if you are by the sea on a clear summer’s night. The sky is pitch black and the stars are the only source of light. Beside you is the one you love. The only one you’ll ever love, your backbone, your soulmate, your universe. It’s such a gentle and ethereal song. With this record, Anna really shows us how phenomenal she is as a guitarist. I mean, if you’re a fan you know this already but she’s gone next level on this. She’s always been on a different level to anything else I’ve ever heard before, and this song is such a beautiful and soothing song. It just oozes reassurance and unconditional admiration, and love. It is such a beautiful song that gently wraps itself around you, and cautiously tugs at your heartstrings. The lyrics are just beautiful, and Anna’s voice on this song is nothing short of magnificent.
Alpha: There are two songs on this record that I am ridiculously excited to write about. Obviously I’m excited to write about the whole record, but two songs this morning in particular stuck with me when I heard them. I really really hope Alpha is released as a single because the video to this would be wild. It’d just be the wildest and insane video. The way Anna toys with gender on this song is wonderful. She questions so much on this song, and does it in a way that makes you do exactly the same. I love how powerful this song is, it’s easily one of the most powerful songs on the record, and you’d think it’d be the most vulnerable given the amount of questioning, but it’s definitely the toughest song on the wrong. I love how she basically roars out, “I divide and conquer” towards the end of the song, and just launches into such a powerful guitar break that is probably going to be amazing to see live.
Chain: This is another one I hope Anna releases as a single because the video would be so amazing. Chain massively toys with sexuality and gender, and I just love it. I love how obvious it is, but not in a clichéd way. I love how Anna sings: “I’ll be the boy you be the girl I’ll be the girl you be the boy I’ll be the girl.” So simplistic, but there’s something about it that just oozes the beauty in being free of labels. I adore how open the song is, and you can take it in whatever way you want. It’s definitely one of those songs that make you feel fearless and like you can take anything, and anyone one. There’s another line in the song that I love, “And in the golden light the sun began to set on her red lips and her words.” It is such a captivating line, and I think it might be my favourite lyric on Hunter. There’s so much in that line, and it’s sung so beautifully. The whole song is just out of this world. Anna’s voice is unlike anything else I’ve ever heard. Its part operatic, part punk and one of a kind.
Wish: Five minutes and sixteen seconds of euphoric joy. This is the other song I have been so excited to write about. I nearly got run over on the way home from work listening to this, its fine. I was totally engrossed in the song. I love how it has this dramatic build up, and the way Anna sings on this song is so intense. I love the line, “My mind is free…” There is something so magical about this line and the urgency in Anna’s voice throughout this song just leaves me in awe. It’s definitely a song that’ll make everyone go nuts when she plays it live. It’s got something about it that just screams urgency, need and the intense desire to be heard. I just love it so much, I don’t think my words can do this song justice. There are so many reasons as to why this is such a great song, but the main one is just how it goes off from the 3 and a half minute mark, then it calms down. It’s like a storm erupting and how it becomes tame towards the end is like the calmness after a thunderous downpour. It’s a song to play loud so your neighbours and beyond get into it. It’s a song I could happily talk someone’s ears off about. I’m obsessed with it.
Away: The more I read Anna’s lyrics, the more I am certain she is a poet. She’s not just a singer or musician. She’s a poet who gets to the very heart of you. She delves deep into the soul and is unafraid to expose human vulnerabilities. I have so much love and respect for her, and this record is just an exceptional piece of art. Away is a gentle song, and it is one of the quieter moments on the record. Imagine being in the studio as this was recorded. It’s the kind of song that would just reduce you to tears. If I saw her sing this live, I’d just cry. I’m not ashamed, I’d breakdown but it’d be a moment I was happy to be in. There is something really special about this song, and I hope it isn’t overlooked by anyone who listens to it, because these quiet moments show just how strong Anna’s voice is and how she can make herself sound fragile even when her voice is the most powerful thing you’ll hear.
Eden: I don’t want this record to end, but Eden is a gorgeous song to end on. There is so much innocence in this song, and it really comes to life in this line: “On your bed so small, with your heroes on the wall. In the fading light.” I love how this makes you think of the innocence of a pure and unfiltered love you have for your person. I love how it has this beautiful wonder about it, and how having such intimate moments like this cause you to pick up on details such as photos of people you admire are on the wall, and your love stares upon them as you are lying close together in this small space. It is just so beautiful. So beautiful. Like I said, I don’t want this record to end but this song is the perfect ending to such a magnetising record. For me, this song expresses the journey of falling in love and always being in love with that one person. It’s such a personal, intimate song that really hits you in the gut. I hope she’s super proud of this song because she captures something so pure here.
I’ve been a fan of Anna since I first heard her cover of Jezebel, I think. I was hooked and I knew I had found a singer I could connect with. I knew I had found someone who I would always connect with and couldn’t wait to hear more of. I’ve used Anna’s music as a crutch and an escape route many times, but Hunter doesn’t feel like an escape route. It feels like a form of security and place of acceptance, and I hope it gets to those who need it. I hope it gets to those who are questioning themselves, and they find their way in this record and become fearless hunters. I know she’ll never see this but, Anna- this is the best record I’ve heard in a long time, and I have so much love for this record and I cannot thank you enough for creating something I can identify with that I’ve not really felt before. Grazie x