Singer-songwriter snares attention with fierce exploration of gender and desire.
Third time’s a charm as the singer-songwriter returns with her most powerful album yet.
HUNTER DOMINO, OUT 31 AUGUST In a statement released ahead of Hunter, Anna Calvi wrote, “I want to go beyond gender. I don’t want to have to choose between the male and the female in me… I want to explore a more subversive sexuality…” It is understandable that she wanted to clarify such a deeply personal record, but it’s quickly clear that the songs on her third album speak powerfully for themselves. From the opening swagger of As A Man, a song that puts Kate Bush at one end of her musical spectrum and Nick Cave at the other, Hunter is a record in complete control of its material and its message. “I’ll be the boy/You be the girl/I’ll be the girl/You be the boy,” Calvi glowers on Chain, all dark pupils and unbound guitar; on Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy, she sings, “I shout out/Let us be us,” a key line in a signal year for queer pop music. There has always been drama in Calvi’s songwriting but Hunter’s senses seem especially heightened, its nerves particularly taut. “The lights are on the TV’s on/My body is still on,” she drawls on the subversively titled Alpha, a song that inescapably echoes PJ Harvey’s Man-Size, while the Massive Attack rumble of Indies Or Paradise or Swimming Pool’s operatic delirium feel richly sensual, a hot-house eroticism that dances along the edge of abandon before its focus snaps back. There’s a reason this record is called Hunter, and not, say, “Seeker” or “Searcher” – there’s a wildness to it, a predatory snarl as it bares its teeth and chases down new ways of expressing desire, different ways of being. Breaking free of convention, breaking away from the pack. ★★★★ VICTORIA SEGAL Listen To: As A Man | Alpha | Chain
There’s a wildness to it, a predatory snarl as it bares its teeth and chases down new ways of expressing desire.
Anna Calvi: “breaking free of convention.”