Singer-song­writer snares at­ten­tion with fierce ex­plo­ration of gen­der and de­sire.

Q (UK) - - Contents -

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.”

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