Following English musician Anna Calvi’s debut self titled album, she was nominated for Best Breakthrough Act at the 2012 Brit Awards and is now releasing her second album One Breath out on Domino Records this month. An intense, thoughtful singer Calvi makes dark, atmospheric pop and is remembered for her seductive live performances in particular.
Calvi said about the album “One Breath is the moment before you’ve got to open yourself up, and it’s about how terrifying that is. It’s scary and it’s thrilling. It’s also full of hope, because whatever has to happen hasn’t happened yet.” She also told NME that opener “Suddenly” is about “about a depression that you don’t really know how to overcome” and you can feel it – it’s a steady, stripped back track with thoughtful lyrics; “Tell your heart to jump to another, the darkness goes on in a never ending night”. Intonation is central to Calvi’s delivery and helps to pick up the happier vibes when she sings “And suddenly I will leave it all behind”.
“Eliza” was the first released single from the album and is a catchy number – she sings “If only I could be Eliza” repeatedly in her wallowing style Calvi throws her voice around with ease. “Piece By Piece” sees a more experimental side of One Breath, her voice sounds softened and thuds mix with strings creating an overall woozy vibe with highlights of loveliness. Stripped back and really focusing on her voice which is full of expression “Sing To Me” sees reverb mixing the background vocals into an instrumental sounding note of it’s own.
“Tristan” sees a comparison with female singers PJ Harvey or Siouxsie – raw and loud she gives a primal voiced performance. In title track “One Breath” Calvi’s voice is suitably breathy, the song is about change and saying things at the right moment, seizing the day; ” I’ve got one breath to give, I’ve got one second to live, before I say what I’ve got to say, before I breath it’s gonna change everything”. It’s a mighty song and orchestral between lyrics at the interlude.
“Love Of My Life” is noisy and punk inspired before “Carry Me Over” takes the album back onto a more experimental platform – jingles and tinkles play out under Calvi’s amazing vocal range. The song has an inquisitive, creepy sort of feel to it. Warbles and a backing choir in “Bleed Into Me” give it a lingering, melancholy before the final track continues with the apostolic vocals. “The Bridge” echoes and harmonizes like a choir practicing in an abandoned church and brings the album to a close very softly.
An autobiographical album about fighting the feeling of change, One Breath is certainly an exciting release from Anna Calvi. Emotion, expression and evaluations come together in something quite haunting but also stunning.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.