ANNA CALVI FOLLOWS UP LAST YEAR’S CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED ALBUM ONE BREATH – ITSELF THE SUCCESSOR TO HER MERCURY NOMINATED 2011 DEBUT – WITH A FIVE TRACK EP OF COVER VERSIONS (RELEASED ON MONDAY).
STRANGE WEATHER – titled after Calvi’s version of a song from Israeli singer Keren Ann’s 2011 album 101 – was produced by Thomas ‘Doveman’ Bartlett (Antony And The Johnsons, Sam Amidon, The National), is released by Domino and available on 12″, CD and download.
The title track features guest vocals from David Byrne (Talking Heads), who also contributes to a version of I’M THE MAN, THAT WILL FIND YOU (from New Zealand psych-pop songwriter Connan Mockasin’s 2013 album CARAMEL). STRANGE WEATHER also features songs originally by David Bowie (LADY GRINNING SOUL, from 1973’s ALADDIN SANE) and Suicide (GHOST RIDER, from the influential New York electro-punk pioneers’ eponymous 1977 debut album) alongside a version of trip-hopper FKA twigs’ PAPA PACIFY (from her 2013 EP2).
Opener PAPA PACIFY empties out the already sparse electronica of FKA twigs’ original until only tune is left. Vibrato guitar, piano and ghostly backing vocals locate something even stranger and far more disturbing in the push-pull between dignity and self-delusion. Seedy I’M THE MAN, THAT WILL FIND YOU – serpentine soul – makes good on Calvi’s promise to “find the most basic elements of the song and highlight those”, while on GHOST RIDER she exhales hot breath and scorching guitar over the original’s icy mechanised pulse.
Highlights are the title track (drenched in reverb, shimmery glissando guitar giving way to eerie piano and harmony vocals; Calvi plaintive and far-reaching, Byrne mostly sonorous) and the sensuous version of Bowie’s LADY GRINNING SOUL.
Calvi is no stranger to offering up spectral reimaginings of the work of others. The Shirelles’ BABY IT’S YOU, Springsteen’s FIRE, Presley’s SURRENDER and The Invisible’s THE WALL have populated the b-sides of her handful of singles, sitting as curios – but the decision to release a full EP of covers suggests she’s in a holding pattern until ONE BREATH campaign duties are fulfilled. That or she’s doing some sonic diarising – STRANGE WEATHER does seem thematically linked; bad boys from the ballroom to the boudoir. Calvi’s new EP forsakes the Gothic bloodlust of her albums for something much more fragile, exposed and sexually intimate.