Monday, 10 October 2005

I am a bird now

I have not been inspired to write a review for an album in a long time. Most of the reviews I have posted on this blog are re-runs of reviews I have written previously, and I'm just importing them into the blog so they will be archived for the ages. The album I am a bird now from Antony & The Johnsons has changed that.

I don't remember being so emotionally affected by an album in a long time. Antony is an androgynous singer/songwriter who has an utterly distinct vibrato voice. If there's anyone I could compare him to (and believe me - it's difficult) it would be Nina Simone.

Lyrically, this is an incredibly sad album. Take the opening line:

Hope there's someone
Who'll take care of me
When I die, when I go

The album seems to be a rites-of-passage for Antony. It starts out with him hoping that someone is going to look after him when he dies. A few songs later, he is singing about wanting to grow up to be a woman, but "for today [he] is a boy". He gets some comfort from Boy George*, who he duets with in the stunning album highlight You are my sister. And in the end, he gets his wings ("I'm a bird girl, and the bird girls can fly").

Words cannot do this album justice, you really need to hear it for yourself. If you (like me) are sick to death of soundalike bands releasing derivative crap, and want to hear something original, leave your prejudices at the door and buy this album.

And a few final points in case I haven't convinced you yet:
  • This album won the coveted Mercury Prize this year, and it was a controversial win. I'm not going to go into details here, but you gotta love a bit of controversy!
  • Music has very rarely given me a physical reaction, but this album has given me goose bumps on several occasions.
* Boy George sounds nothing like you would expect him to sound like on this album. Far removed from his Culture Club days, I didn't know it was him until I read it in the liner notes. He has a stunning voice that complement's Anthony's perfectly.

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