Album: Anna Calvi, "Anna Calvi"

With her torch-singer-meets-gypsy-flamenco-guitarist persona and her keening, quavering, retro songs of passion, Anna Calvi is like something out of a David Lynch film. However, there is a smouldering conviction about her that undercuts the apparent pretension of melding 1940s chanteuse singing with thundering percussion and sweeping cinematic keyboards. 

The debut album by the 28-year-old, half-English, half-Italian musician is the result of three years of recording. Accordingly, it has a well-crafted feel despite its maverick energy. The songs are for the most part well-defined and memorable, showing good ensemble playing and plenty of musical drama. 

The Devil for example is like a cross between an introspective soundcheck and an exorcism, while Suzanne And I manages to sound throbbingly emotional and chest-thumpingly robust at the same time. What Ms. Calvi has in spades is artistic amplitude, the ability to paint delicately in subdued, subtle tints and then to violently daub on a smear of palpitating red.

Colin Liddell
14th February, 2011
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