Anna Calvi – Live At MeltdownMark Dohmann
|Label:||Domino – WIGLP380|
|Format:||2 × Vinyl, LP, Limited Edition, Red|
|Genre:||Rock, Alt-Rock, Alt-Goth|
“Time for a meltdown”
I’ve always enjoyed good live albums. I prefer the lack of production and overt cleansing that often occurs on studio work. You can most times get closer to the artist. I’ve seen David Byrne play live a few times over the last 25 years. His Talking Heads Stop Making Sense live album was and is a great record to play on a big system. David Byrne co-founder of seminal new wave band Talking Heads, Oscar, and Golden Globe award-winning musician known for his collaborations has curated other artists at a festival called Meltdown in UK.
Byrne followed in the footsteps of previous Meltdown directors that included Jarvis Cocker, Patti Smith, David Bowie, Yoko Ono and Ray Davies. As well as being the creative force behind Talking Heads his collaborations span the spectrum of popular music and include Brian Eno, St. Vincent, Morcheeba, Fatboy Slim, Paul Simon, Thievery Corporation, Arcade Fire and Anna Calvi.
Anna Calvi is one of those rare talents that has a strong enough personality to break through into our collective consciousness on multiple fronts. Anna Margaret Michelle Calvi (born 24 September 1980) is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist. Her accolades include three Mercury Prize nominations, one Brit Award nomination, and a European Border Breakers Award. She has been noted by some critics as a virtuoso guitarist, as well as for her powerful, wide-ranging operatic contralto voice.
Born in London, Calvi graduated from the University of Southampton with a degree in music, having studied violin. She released her eponymous debut album in 2011 through Domino Records to critical acclaim, earning a Mercury Prize nomination for Album of the Year, a British Breakthrough Act nomination at the 2012 Brit Awards and a European Border Breakers Award.
In one interview she expounded on her second album, One Breath, the follow-up to her Mercury-nominated self-titled debut. Again she worked from her own home in south west London. Like her debut, it was written in isolation, in the dark hours when no-one was around. “I write best at night time,” she explains. “My sweet spot is around 1am when I’m not too tired and it’s late enough that I feel like I’m in the right place.”
She followed this in 2014 with the EP Strange Weather and subsequently wrote the music for a stage production of the opera The Sandman, directed by Robert Wilson. Calvi released her third full-length album, Hunter, in August 2018 earning her a third Mercury Prize nomination.
This album is a compilation of her Live at Meltdown concert from David Byrne’s curated Meltdown Festival in 2015. It sees her accompanied by a 12 piece choir, performing a choice selection of tracks from her back catalogue. For a taste of the sound and music you can check out “Rider To The Sea” from the concert.
Calvi has cited Nina Simone, Maria Callas, the rock of Jimi Hendrix, The Smiths and the Rolling Stones, the blues of Captain Beefheart, the stage performances of David Bowie, Nick Cave, and Scott Walker as well as classical composers Messiaen, Ravel and Debussy as among her influences. She has also spoken of the influence of the films of Gus Van Sant, Wong Kar-Wai and David Lynch on 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. Calvi recently added to soundtrack of the UK television series Peaky Blinders series. A highly stylised moody outlaw sensibility permeates both the music and visuals in this series and Calvi is now engaged to provide more music to the series.
Calvi frequently uses a 1990s American-made Fender Telecaster guitar and a vintage red Vox AC30 amp, both live and in the studio. It has some darker gothic rock elements (think Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees from 1980’s era) but interspersed with reverbs from almost 60’s surf guitar influences. A choir adds harmonic richness. She uses gaps and silence in her music with great effect. It’s not jarring rock.
One of many highlights is Track 1 Side C Strange Weather with David Byrne singing duet with Calvi and the Choir in support. Love Won’t Be Leaving on Side C is another. This album and Marlon Williams recent Live in Auckland double album are high on my list of favourite live albums in the last 5 years. They will stand the test of time I’m sure.
It grabs your attention and may cause you to meltdown (in a good way!). Whichever way you chance across her work it can bring enjoyment. BY ORDER OF THE PEAKY BLINDERS!
A1 Sing To Me
A2 Rider To The Sea
B1 Suzanne & I
B2 Wolf Like Me
B3 I’ll Be Your Man
C1 Strange Weather Featuring [With] – David Byrne
C3 Love Won’t Be Leaving
D1 Ghost Rider
D2 Vespers Movement 5 / The Bridge