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Anna Calvi
Anna Calvi Anna Calvi
Released 14 January 2011
Producer Rob Ellis, Anna Calvi
Label Domino
Length 39:29
Genre Pop, rock
Website www.annacalvi.com

'Rider to the Sea', the track that opens Anna Calvi’s debut, conjures up the spirits of Ry Cooder, PJ Harvey and Ennio Morricone’s 'The Ecstasy of Gold'. The following 'No More Words' adds the vocal style of Nancy Sinatra and Beth Gibbons to this, and it’s apparent that the BBC were not wrong to name Anna Calvi as one of the Top 15 Sounds of 2011.

The Sixties-Noir influences on the Anglo-Italian Calvi are displayed with relish. 'Desire' compounds PJ Harvey with Patti Smith’s 'Horses', but the ghost of Roy Orbison predominates in both the music and in the lyrics (“only the lonely”). 'Suzanne & I' stays well away from Leonard Cohen’s uninspiring riparian meal, and plunges through an alternative Bond theme, Calvi’s voice borrowing from Petula Clark, her backing guitars matching it for gusto. 'First We Kiss' treads similar territory, but slower, a smouldering rather than blazing track.

'The Devil', however interrupts the steady drive of the album. This weak, oddly out of place, track pushes the Flamenco flourishes from the background to the fore and creates something like the theme tune to The High Chaparral– hardly the intention, but it is the only time the album falters. 'Blackout' is a return to form, and could sound a lot better live with a bigger band and more forceful vocals; an attempt at which is made and realised on the hidden 'Love Won’t Be Leaving'. Why such a serpentine, predatory apotheosis was buried at the end of the album is open to debate, but if it points the way forward, then Anna Calvi’s sophomore will be worth waiting for.

Between it and 'Blackout', however, are a couple of slow-moving songs, 'I’ll Be Your Man' and 'Morning Light', neither of which quite stir the passions as intended. This is especially so on 'Morning Light' where it’s difficult to discern if the atmosphere hints at post-coital ennui or the plain and simple boredom of a Saturday morning on a wet weekend.

Regardless, Anna Calvi has pitched herself in the tradition of British female Soul. She’s not alone of course: Duffy’s existence reveals an appetite for this kind of music. Calvi’s eponymous debut stands as testament to a fine talent, but it’s her next album that should place her apart, and bring her the recognition she deserves.

- Paul McGranaghan