What is the concern of art if not love and loss, having and not having? Anna Calvi, a pale beauty and restless soul sings songs haunted by the ghosts of long dead rockabilly singers and broken hearted chanteuses. Stirring a cauldron of influences from Messien and Debussy, Maria Callas as well as the lush cinema of Wong Kar Wei and the music played to her at her Italian father’s knee.
The ten songs which make up self-titled debut album songs were demo’ed on an eight-track recorder in Mama and Papa Calvi’s attic. Recording took place in basement studio with Anna’s vocals and guitar complemented by Mally Harpaz on guitar, harmonium and percussion, and Daniel Maiden-Wood on drums. All told, it took three years of recording before they finally emerged; blinking into the sunshine with a clutch of songs which, in the singer’s words, explore “intimacy, passion and loneliness.” The result is a wild romantic fantasy, shot through with carnal devilry. Says Calvi: ‘Music’s so sexual. And there is that thing of… when you love someone so much you think that you could kill them. ’
In a charming nod to times past, the album is preceded by a standalone track not featured on the long player. Jezebel, a song made famous by Edith Piaf, is a tale of a fallen woman, “a devil born… without horns.” In Calvi’s hands, it becomes a whirling flamenco.
Anna Calvi is swiftly garnering favourable reviews. She’s recently toured with Grinderman and an early champion was none other than Brian Eno, who in a 6 Music Interview, remarkably called Calvi “the biggest thing since Patti Smith”. The debut album is produced by Rob Ellis, long-term collaborator of PJ Harvey and it’s tempting to make comparisons between Polly Jean’s gothic universe and the dark fables told by this compelling young singer. Let her tell you a story.