Advance Preview - Anna Calvi

 

Anna Calvi is a critically-acclaimed alternative singer and guitar virtuoso who has been on the national scene professionally since about 2011. We had the opportunity to get an advance listen (thank you Domino Records!) to her third album, Hunter (due out August 31st). We have a short bio of Calvi and included a full review of Hunter. Check it out below!

 

*Anna Calvi Biography:

 

Anna Calvi, nationally renowned singer/songwriter and guitarist, returns with her third album Huntera daring album that highlights Calvi's powerful vocals and her unique guitar work. The album was written at a time when Calvi experienced an 8-year relationship come to an end, and the start of a new relationship in France. Her new partner encouraged her to explore herself, which in turn had Calvi exploring gender and resulted in her creation of Hunter, an album that challenges stereotypes of gender roles in "hunter/hunted" scenarios. 

 

Anna Calvi - Hunter Album Review:

 

1. "As a Man" - Features a great guitar intro and melody that builds upon Calvi's vocals. There is a lot of use of vibrato by Calvi here, with vocals that sound reminiscent of jazz. We are not normally fans of whistling used as melody in songs, but it works here. Calvi's voice is so powerful in this song that it just booms above the rhythm even after it shifts. The song kicks into a higher gear at about the two-minute mark. The vocals pick up more before a breakdown section that features Calvi speaking briefly. We love the thematic discussion of gender and the expression of gender in this song. A great start to the album.

 

2. "Hunter" - Starts off a bit slower, with Calvi being accompanied by synth and low electronic beats. The song picks up vocally, but the beat stays very similar throughout, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition between melody and vocals. We love the sudden intrusion of guitar that is present throughout the song. Calvi shows off her range vocally in this track through her utilization of falsetto. The hook in this song is unique as we described before. It keeps the mellow beat, but the vocals rise up to meet the chorus. The song sort of saunters off at the end as quickly as it came.

  

3. "Don't Beat the Girl out of my Boy" - Evokes classic indie/alt comparisons with its effects-driven guitar work. Calvi is the star here, of course, and she is having a ball. Particularly on the chorus by teasing listeners with her range and

 

the use of inflection in her vocals. We again see the use of gender as a theme here, specifically the fluidity of gender. There's a note Calvi goes for and gets near the 3/4 mark of the song that is astounding. We have to wonder how this would sound live as it it incredibly high and she sustains it for what seems like an eternity. 

 

4. "Indies or Paradise" - Begins with a growl of sorts and more gruff vocals. This is definitely a change of pace from the aforementioned tracks. The guitar work is building toward Calvi inevitably breaking out her unparalleled vocal style on a bridge that downright teasing listeners with what we think is going to be a huge hook. The second time around, she unleashes a guitar solo that is absolutely chaotic, in the best sense of the word, and we loved every second of it. Calvi's falsetto emerges again before she blows it up and hits the note we have been waiting to hear. Calvi has such range that it's not fair to compare her to other singers as her vocals sound more classically trained than other artists. 

 

5. "Swimming Pool" - Is almost operatic in it's melody and vocal delivery. Calvi's vocals dance in tandem with the music like a fog just above water. She sounds as if she's at a distance, which feels appropriate for the song. There are times where Calvi barely reaches above a hushed whisper before delivering sweeping vocals. Hearing these varying vocals pitted against one another in the same song is interesting, thematically. As "Swimming Pool" progresses, Calvi climbs her register and the music climbs with her. There is something about this song that rings very grandiose, but has a sadness behind it. Like celebrating a minor victory in the face of an inevitable defeat. It's beautifully delivered.

 

6. "Alpha" - Plants Calvi firmly back within the indie genre, while she uses her soulful vocals over an extremely mellow beat of percussion and snapping fingers. Some guitar joins later, but Calvi's voice is again the champion here. She goes wherever she wants, essentially showing that these tracks are her stage and she's going to use every bit of it. Calvi demonstrates more guitar work in this track with a solo that could be described as "deconstructed." Calvi loves taking the conventional guitar solo and turning it on its head, and we love watching her do it.  

 

7. "Chain" - Starts softly, but quickly moves into indie/ambient areas with high-range vocals. Gender is again a theme in this track, with Calvi telling a partner that she will be the girl and boy at various times throughout the track. This track features more traditional guitar work, that is reminiscent of blues soloing. It's evident she's a talented guitarist. 

 

8. "Wish" - Shifts back into the alt/indie genre with guitar driven melodies and vocal work that is a bit more grounded to pair with the music. The chorus sounds a bit ambient, stylistically, reminding us of Sigur Ros, both vocally and musically; however, Calvi violently jogs the listener out of the trance, right back into the more traditional guitar-driven verse. We love the unpredictability of "Wish." Calvi again demonstrates her ability on the guitar with another solo.

 

9. "Away" - Begins slowly with guitar and vocals, almost reminiscent of a Hole song with better instrumentation. There is something about this track makes it sound like a throwback of sorts. While listening, we imagine driving a car after barely surviving an adventure, watching the sun come up and wondering "what the hell just happened to me?" Calvi's vocals would be the force that moves you forward in this song and they grow as the track progresses. This track would be a fantastic song to end on, which has us very intrigued by what "Eden" sounds like.  

 

10. "Eden" - Beautiful guitar work starts the song, accompanied by Calvi's vocals, which work in tandem here. The intro to this song might be the best part of this album. The verse, bridge, and hook on this song are absolutely fantastic. Calvi adds a brief bit of strings at the end to close the song and the album. We thought "Away" was the song to end this album. Boy, were we wrong. 

 

Closing Thoughts - Calvi is clearly on another level when compared to other vocalists and guitarists. Her skills are downright impeccable. She puts on a clinic with both on Hunter. This is an album that challenges a lot with regard to gender norms, song structure, and music itself. It's daring and we dig it.

 

Rating - 5/5 

 

*Some information utilized in biography section was obtained from GrandStand Media.

Special thank you to Domino Records and Grand Stand Media for their assistance.  

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