I Am a Bird Now

Studio Album by released in 2005
I Am a Bird Now's tracklist:
Hope There's Someone
My Lady Story
For Today I Am a Boy
Man Is the Baby
You Are My Sister
What Can I Do?
Fistful of Love
Spiralling
Free at Last
Bird Gerhl

I Am a Bird Now review

Antony And The Johnsons are led by New Yorker Antony – actor, artist, but above all musician with an utterly unique look, style and indeed voice. Antony spent his adolescence in San Jose, California, alternately obsessing over Soft Cell vocalist Mark Almond and black American musicians – Billie Holiday, Otis Redding, and, especially, Nina Simone, whose catalogue he can riff on with scholarly expertise. I Am A Bird Now, his second album, wrestles with disease, love, sexual identity and is shot through with red blooded passion. It also boasts a stellar supporting line up: Boy George (You Are My Sister), Devendra Banhart (gypsy incantations in the beginning of Spiralling), Rufus Wainwright (What Can I Do?) and Lou Reed (Fistful of Love). It's a testament to Antony's skill as a writer and arranger that these guest appearances are completely devoid of pretense, and while each artist is reverent to the source material, it's still Antony's show, as the most powerful moments on I Am A Bird Now are his. As whole, the record is hardly notable for its special guests; the beauty of Antony's singing, the ferociousness of his delivery, the profundity of his songs, and the unflinching nature make the disc truly transcend such. It is a beautiful, emotive, glorious, and sometimes sinister album that will top many a critic's list come the end-of-year polls, and justifiably so.

The release includes songs about loneliness and aging (Hope There’s Someone), friendships that become familial (You Are My Sister), and the album’s most persistent theme, shattering the boundaries between sexes (Bird Girl, For Today I Am a Boy), all backed by music that ranges in influence from Stax soul to Weill/Weimar-era cabaret. But what makes Antony such a potent artist is his voice. It’s a warbling tenor that can hit almost falsettolike highs and rumbling, extraordinarily soulful lows. Antony himself plays piano and organ on most tracks; the Johnsons, seemingly an amorphous group of fellow artistes from the New York scene, contribute variously further keys, cello, violin, drums, and bass. This makes for a rag-tag orchestra, plying an accomplished trade in soul and blues musicianship.

I Am A Bird Now is beyond any semi-confectionary aesthetic distance that you might bring to discussing your average album. This music grabs a hold of you and doesn't let go. It feels timeless and gorgeous and bigger than life. It is assured, seering and majestic soul to the utmost. Like Nina Simone, Antony has this uncanny ability to take your standard blues progression and give it authority that skips whatever reservations and preconceptions the audience might lean toward and aims directly for their empathy and, ultimately, their belief in the innate, transcendent force music can contain. Antony's voice is a songbird's warble, but it's a caged bird, held prisoner behind the bars of the body, living in a human form that seems like a prison. Much of the album is tinged with a sense of sadness, about not being accepted, about societal impositions, or about just being sad. However, the album is one of those rare things, a fully conceived and perfectly realized artwork. This will surely be counted as one of the most remarkable, individual, and adorable albums of the year.

(05.08.2005)
Rate review4.82
Total votes - 47


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