Antony and the Johnsons: I Am A Bird Now
Ten tracks strong, I Am A Bird Now, is justly titled as Antony warbles like a wounded songbird on the opener, "Hope There's Someone". In fact he comes across like a rare beautiful bird on all ten -- that brightly coloured, sleekly feathered, just out of reach creature, sending it's sadly burnished song into the open sky. Songs that standout include "My Lady Story", (one of several that touch on gender identification) coloured blue by flute and simple, but elegant, backing vocal work; "Fistfull of Love", boasting a Lou Reed spoken-word intro, blossoms into a gospel meltdown with horn punches and stand up and testify emotion. Closing the disc is "Bird Guhl", the most beautiful number on the album. A powerful melody that matches the passion of Antony's lyric, "Cause I'm a Bird Guhl (pronounced Bird Girl)/ and the Bird Guhls go to heaven/ cause I'm a Bird Guhl /and the Bird Guhls can fly". It would be easy for many of these songs to be overdone, to be dressed up in sickly sweet strings and over wrought emotion; luckily Antony's taste matches his talent.
There is a spiritual element to the sound of Antony's music -- music which worships piano cabaret ballads, string laden chamber pop, and gospel-fired soul -- gospel heard in a church that will soon find new parishioners, I am sure.
He is a bird now... it's hard to imagine him as anything else.
Alan Williamson *Sixeyes