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Domino Records – January 2011

Prior to the debut self titled album by London based Anna Calvi she has been backed by many industry greats which sets a high standard to live up to. Unlike Calvi’s contemporaries her lyrics are imbued with infatuation and her deep alluring voice accents her music beautifully, so far so good.

Anna Calvi begins with ‘Rider to the Sea’ an instrumental track of twanging guitar emphasised at its peaks by the rumble of drums and the ring of symbols. Calvi’s well-known proficiency as a guitarist is showcased in this introduction as a choir of voices underlie the track.

The second track ‘No More Words’ begins with Calvi’s sultry voice cooing gently. Her vocals become a breathy repetition of the line “Oh my love” like the intimate words spoken to a lover. The theme of sexual desire runs through the album seducing the listener though the lyrics are simple and often repetitive.

The song ‘Desire’ is even more passionate with stronger drum beats as Anna Calvi’s vocals are similar to Ida Maria but without the rough gravel. As Calvi is led astray by the Devil and enjoys the fire you’re ensnared by her allure.

Cavli is romantic but seductive unlike the battery of her contemporaries. Rather than the flighty female singer-songwriters such as Ellie Goulding or the electro love pains of Robyn, Calvi provides a passionate trail into the darkness of lust and longing in songs like ‘First We Kiss’.

The most encompassing, dramatic and enrapturing song of the album is ‘The Devil’. With Calvi’s deep velvety voice wailing “The Devil” it’s simple yet effective. Calvi’s technical guitar skill erupts into her impassioned ascending vocals and cries, emphasising the sexual power of both.

Spiralling vocals are another staple of the album. ‘Blackout’ uses this technique though it is a fast-paced track. The high pitched backing vocals create both an ethereal and upbeat contrast to Calvi’s voice as she again relies less on lyrics and more on conveying emotion in her escalating wails.

The track ’I’ll Be Your Man’ is more music centric as it begins with intermittent twanging guitar to more fast paced classical plucking. The guitar riff is then emphasised by clashing symbols. Calvi lures you in once more with her temptress whisper switching to a higher vocal range to sing the title “I’ll be your man”.

Anna Calvi ends with the somewhat bohemian ‘Love Won’t Be Leaving’, as sporadic snare drums and symbols contrast the added edge given by her piercing guitar. The undercurrent of the plucking bass streams into an interwoven passion, as the music upraises the lyrics disintegrate into a passionate ‘”La la la”. The song leaves you with a distant heart beat.

It seems inconceivable that the finale would be triumphant but it is, as you’re left with the backbone of the album barely audible in your ears. Calvi is unlike current poptarts, with her deeper and darker emotional connection. She is more focused on lust and sin, than romantic love, in both music and lyrics. Calvi may not fit neatly into a genre but she is definitely one to watch especially for those fans of a mysterious and complicated sound.

Anna Calvi – ‘Suzanne and I’

Also posted on InQuire Live.