|Anna Calvi — One Breath (2013)|
Anna Calvi — One Breath
Δ British singer/songwriter with influences ranging from Nick Cave's post-punk to Django Reinhardt's flamenco.
Δ Calvi first picked up the violin at 6, and guitar at 8. "Something would take me over whenever I'd seen an electric guitar," she later recalled. By the age of 10 she was using a double cassette karaoke machine to overdub her playing. All the while, attracted "to the impressionistic element of the music", she came to be much influenced by 20th century composers Messiaen, Ravel, and Debussy, the feel of which she would try to recreate on the guitar, an instrument she was compelled to learn on discovering Django Reinhardt and Jimi Hendrix at the age of 13.
Born: September 24, 1980 in Twickenham, England
Occupations: Singer, songwriter, musician, guitarist
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, violin, bass, piano, sitar
Location: South London, UK
Album release: October 7, 2013
Record Label: Domino
01. Suddenly (3:34)
02. Eliza (3:39)
03. Piece By Piece (3:17)
04. Cry (2:55)
05. Sing To Me (4:02)
06. Tristan (2:43)
07. One Breath (4:44)
08. Love Of My Life (3:06)
09. Carry Me Over (5:28)
10. Bleed Into Me (3:41)
11. The Bridge (2:09)
Ξ Anna Calvi — vocals, guitar, violin
Ξ Mally Harpaz — harmonium, bass pedal, percussion
Ξ Daniel Maiden-Wood — drums, backing vocals
Ξ John Baggot Moog Bass, Organ, Piano, Prepared Piano, Synthesizer
Ξ Fiona Brice String Arrangements, String Conductor
Ξ Buffi Jacobs Cello
Ξ Arthur Busby Violin
Ξ Anna Calvi Composer, Guitar, String Arrangements, Vibraphone, Vocals
Ξ John Congleton Engineer, Mixing, Producer
Ξ Matt Cooper Layout
Ξ Roger Deckker Photography, Album artwork
Ξ Peter Deimal Assistant Engineer
Ξ Jordan Gezger Bass
Ξ Mally Hargaz Dulcimer, Harmonium, Marimba, Vibraphone
Ξ Dimitry Kustanovich Viola
Ξ Emma Nathan Inside Photo, Album trailer filmed
Ξ Hayden Oliver Violin
Ξ Chad Stockslager Vocals (Background)
Ξ Kristi Swanson Viola
Ξ Jennifer Sweetmen Violin
Ξ Valerie Tatge Cello
Ξ Lisamarie Vana Viola
Ξ Daniel Maieleu Wood Drums, Guitar, Marimba, Percussion, Vocals (Background) © ANNA CALVI / Hoxton Hall in London, January 27, 2011, sold-out gig / Photo credit: James Berry
— In the summer of 2012, Calvi was one of the judges for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize.
— Calvi took time off recording in November 2012 to sing on a Noah and The Whale song called "Heart of Nowhere", released in May 2013.
Gen director: Hiroki Shirasuka (email@example.com)
Press contact: Colleen Maloney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Agent: World = Steve Backman (email@example.com) / North America = Tom Windish (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ξ "One Breath is a bold and confident record that begins an exciting chapter in this uniquely talented artist's career. Produced by John Congleton (St. Vincent, The Walkmen, Clinic), One Breath was written in a year and recorded over a few intense weeks. The album is a more personal record than its Mercury Prize nominated predecessor. Reflective and vulnerable, it strikes a balance between optimism and despair, beauty and ugliness. The fiery elements of Anna's debut remain, but One Breath is more instinctive and urgent, revealing a wider spectrum of textures and emotion."
Ξ Un album globalement décevant qui sombre trop souvent dans le pompeux et la facilité, même si la seconde partie est nettement meilleure que le début. Dommage!
Harriet Gibsone; The Guardian, Thursday 26 September 2013 22.26 BST
Ξ According to its maker, One Breath was inspired by “the moment before you’ve got to open yourself up”. Anna Calvi‘s voice, however, is anything but cautious, and often resounds like Boudicca addressing the troops. Still touching on the themes of lust, love and death, her new material amps up the theatricality of passion and sadness, and abandons the Ennio Morricone-aping of her 2011 release in favour of more contemporary experimentation. There’s a glam sleaziness to the guitars on Cry, almost Muse-like in pomposity, while the jerky Piece by Piece could have been plucked from St Vincent’s Strange Mercy. The highlight comes in the album’s final moments, during The Bridge, a celestial piece that sounds more like angels weeping in the Sistine Chapel than a song tagged on to the end of an indie record. One Breath is truly cathartic, but it will leave you a quivering wreck. (http://www.theguardian.com/)
Artist Biography by Aneet Nijjar
Ξ Hailed as "the best thing since Patti Smith" by Brian Eno, as well as being included on the BBC's Sound of 2011 list, the hype surrounding London-born Anna Calvi came to a crescendo in late 2010. Gaining critical acclaim among music journalists, Calvi drew comparisons with passionate and brooding musicians like Nick Cave and Polly Jean Harvey. The dense and rich musical influences that inhabit Calvi's world are broad and distinctive strokes of sultry flamenco, smoke-filled blues, and seductive goth pop/rock. Ξ Adding to this tapestry of influences, Calvi claims to have been inspired by the films of David Lynch, Gus Van Sant, and Wong Kar Wai; the cinematic element to her music contributes a mysterious and unyielding undercurrent to her work.
Ξ At the age of 17, after eschewing art school in favor of a music degree, Calvi began to learn her trade and assemble musical partnerships. In 2006, she met percussionist and harmonium player Mally Harpaz, and later recruited drummer Daniel Maiden-Wood. Ξ The release of her debut single, "Jezebel," in the fall of 2010 was an electric cover version of the Edith Piaf standard. The young Calvi soon captured the attention of Domino Records' boss Lawrence Bell after a glowing reference from former Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones, who had witnessed one of Calvi's gigs in Manchester. Bell quickly signed her to his label. Ryder-Jones was not the only celebrity admirer of Calvi's, an acquaintance of the aforementioned Brian Eno similarly urged him to listen to this emerging talent. After hearing Calvi's raw and unplugged performances on The Attic Sessions (the early demos that she recorded on an 8-track in her parent's attic), the distinguished producer soon became her mentor and unofficial cheerleader.
Ξ Calvi entered Black Box studio in France with the much-lauded producer Rob Ellis to record her self-titled debut album in 2010. Using vintage analog equipment, Calvi created a velvet Wall of Sound that justified the hype in the buildup to its 2011 release. Ξ Following the release of her debut album, Calvi was inundated with award nominations for accolades such as Best British Breakthrough Act at the BRITS in 2012, and she was presented with the European Border Breaks alongside being invited to judge that year's prestigious Mercury Prize. Toward the end of 2012 she lent her powerful voice to Noah and the Whale's title track, "Heart of Nowhere," between sessions for her second release, One Breath, which was issued in 2013.
Notes about debut album:
The Observer Album of The Week
Independent on Sunday Album of The Week
Evening Standard 4* Album of The Week
Irish Times 4* Album of The Week
Irish Tribune 5/5 Album of The Week
The Times 4*
Financial Times 4*
Daily Mail 4*
The Sun 4*
Time Out 4* Album of The Week
The Fly 4*
Rough Trade Album of The Month
Notes about "One Breath":
Ξ Music Week listed One Breath as one of the key releases of the month and Dazed Digital included Eliza in the list of "Top 10 Videos Of The Month".
Ξ Mojo described the album as impressive because of "the kinetic force of its delivery, for its richly textured art-rock melodrama and vertiginous hook-lines".
Publication: Score: Quotes:
Ξ The Guardian 4* "One Breath is truly cathartic, but it will leave you a quivering wreck."
Ξ Mojo 4* "One Breath is, indeed, breathtaking, and an undeniable upgrade on its much-vaunted predecessor. 'Difficult second album' syndrome roundly trounced in other words."
Ξ Q 4* "Beautiful and candid, One Breath proves Anna Calvi has her frailties. They just happen to be as captivating as her strengths."
Ξ Uncut 8/10 "Londoner sings from the depths on second album, makes the heart soar"
Ξ The Fly 4* "'One Breath'…will surely burrow under your skin"
Ξ Drowned In Sound 8/10
Ξ The 405 8/10 "epic, explosive, fragile and tender in equal parts"
Ξ Music OMH 4* "as compelling as ever"
Ξ Plugged 89% "Anna Calvi's icily, beautiful charm continues to deliver."
Style and influences:
Ξ Calvi frequently uses a Fender Telecaster guitar (90s US) and uses a vintage red Vox AC30 amp both live and in the studio. She is a virtuoso guitarist — although her first instrument is the violin of which she has a university degree in. Calvi also imagines playing guitar as an orchestra and is noted for her particular style of playing which involves hitting the strings in a circular motion, rather than strumming up and down. Ξ The result has been described by Q as "the prodigious wash of sound that recall Ennio Morricone, Duane Eddy, even Jimi Hendrix in its fluidity."
Ξ Calvi has been compared to other female singers PJ Harvey and Siouxsie.
Ξ Calvi's style has been described as dark, romantic, atmospheric pop. The singer has stated that the powers of lust are an inspiration and her performances are deliberately sexually charged. Calvi has cited Nina Simone, Maria Callas, the rock of Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, the blues of Captain Beefheart, the stage performances of Nick Cave, David Bowie and Scott Walker as well as classical composers Carlo Gesualdo, Messiaen, Ravel and Debussy as among her influences.
Ξ Calvi has stated that the films of Gus Van Sant and Wong Kar-Wai and David Lynch have also influenced her music. She admires "people that make beautiful films where the cinematography tells the story" and tries to do the same in her own work.
Awards and nominations:
Year: Organisation: Nominated work: Award: Result:
2010 BBC Sound of 2011 Anna Calvi Sound of 2011 Nominated
2011 Mercury Prize Anna Calvi Best Album Nominated
2011 UK Festival Awards Anna Calvi Best Breakthrough Artist Nominated
2011 European Festivals Awards Anna Calvi Newcomer of The Year Nominated
2012 Eurosonic Noorderslag Anna Calvi European Border Breakers Award (UK) Won
2012 The Guardian Anna Calvi First Album Award Nominated
2012 Brit Awards Anna Calvi British Breakthrough Act Nominated
2012 European Festivals Awards Anna Calvi Newcomer of The Year Nominated
Deep Breath: Anna Calvi In Conversation
CLASHMUSIC / FEATURES / 26 · 09 · 2013
Words: Marc Zanotti
Photos: Roger Deckker
Ξ Having gained friends like Brian Eno, fans like Nick Cave, and being nominated for the Mercury Prize, it’s reasonable to assume Anna Calvi was riding high following her 2011 self-titled art-rock debut.
Ξ Yet away from studio and stage Calvi fell on hard times, opening up in recent interviews about contending with loss, spats of depression and untamed emotions in the two years between her first album and its follow-up, ‘One Breath’.
Ξ It’s Calvi’s personal turmoil that shapes her new collection — a record that folds in on itself under the density of detachment, suffocation, liberation and salvation. For Calvi, ‘One Breath’ represents a loss of control, an acceptance of fate and an album driven by gut instinct.
Ξ Having returned to Blackbox Studios in France and with the assistance of producer John Congleton, Calvi translated struggles endured into an atmospheric album that weighs on the shoulders while offering hope to the heart.
Ξ Clash spoke to the singer ahead of the new album’s release…
Ξ :: You’ve said title track to ‘One Breath’ is about that moment just before losing control. Are there moments on the record where you lost control, and had to let the music take its own direction?
— I think that always happens when you’re recording. You have an idea of how things are going to turn out, but they always change and it’s really important not to fight that and allow a song to become whatever it wants to become. So there’s always an element of the unknown.
Ξ :: The song ‘Piece By Piece’ dramatically changed from its original idea. Is that an example of losing control, or taking the reigns to redirect the song?
— That was more about taking the reigns, really. Just to make it more interesting. But that had a very strong thematic feeling about it. I really wanted the music to express the story, which is about slowly forgetting and that memory is made up of these kinds of pieces that dissipate and disintegrate over time. So I really wanted the music to express that. The idea that it would be made up of lots of little pieces that would be constructed as the song went on. So it was quite clear to me how that song should turn out.
Ξ :: Is it a strange paradox to write a song about trying to forget a certain moment in time, and then having that song serve as a constant reminder?
— But it’s interesting because even since I’ve written it (‘Piece By Piece’), the things that I was writing about forgetting, I am forgetting. I mean, I can’t remember that moment as well as I did when I wrote the song, which is quite interesting for me. That the song has kind of predicted the future and here I am. I quite like that.
Ξ :: Did recording ‘One Breath’ on more of a gut instinct than your first album lend itself to writing a more personal, less-guarded record?
— I guess, in a way. I wouldn’t really know how to explain why but I think it’s a more true essence of my character and the way I was feeling, because it didn’t get edited as much [as the first album]. So there’s a sense of having a feeling and putting it down and that being what it is.
Ξ :: Many of the tracks build to atmospheric crescendos, where the weight of the material really crashes down on you in a wave of sound. Was that a deliberate device to express emotional turmoil?
— The music has always got to tell the story. For one thing I’m really influenced by a lot of orchestral classical music. One of the things I love about that music is the use of tension and release. So I use that method quite a lot in my songs. Where things build and build, and there’s this tension, and then there’s a moment where everything is released and free. So I employ that a lot, that technique.
Ξ :: How did keyboardist John Baggot help you create an atmospheric sound throughout ‘One Breath’?
— He was good at creating soundscapes because I didn’t want to use the guitar as just an accompanying instrument. I wanted it to be used as a dramatic device at the most emotional apex of the songs — for the guitar to come in really strong like a character.
— But that meant that I needed the chord to be suggested by something other than the guitar. That’s why I wanted to get a keyboard player in. He (Baggot) did a lot of great organ and piano work on the record.
Ξ :: Why did you choose to use the keyboard as a substitute for bass guitar throughout much of the album?
— I just don’t really find bass guitar that exciting. And I think with keyboard bass you can get the low-end sound more like you can in an orchestra, from bringing in brass and low instruments. Whereas when bass guitar comes in, it automatically feels like a four-piece rock band, which I don’t find that interesting.
Ξ :: Lead single ‘Eliza’ is about being trapped in a situation and imagining being someone else as a form of escapism. What drove you to write the song?
— It’s in part about the idea of seeing something in someone else, and seeing a part of you that you feel you have lost, and wanting to reconnect with it again. I think anyone has, sometimes, a sense that they’ve lost a [part] of who they are and they’re trying to reconnect again. I think it’s kind of natural feeling, really.
Ξ :: Do you mind giving a little insight into your current single ‘Sing To Me’, which has the powerful lyric, "I would tear my throat just to hears yours sing out".
— That song is, in part, about Maria Callas who I really love and who has inspired me a lot. It’s kind of about the idea of being saved by someone else’s voice, whether it’s a singer or whether it’s someone that you love. It’s the idea of being sung to and how healing that is, that you could want nothing more than to hear their voice as a way of being healed.
|Anna Calvi — One Breath (2013)|