I Am a Bird Now

I Am a Bird Now

4.4 5
by Antony and the Johnsons
     
 

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There's no denying that Antony Hegarty has a heck of a back-story, from a pervasive gender-identity conflict to an iconoclastic musical vision that made this album the out-of-left-field winner of Britain's prestigious Mercury Music Prize, usually reserved for artists with a far higher profile. At first listen, the mercurial I Am a Bird Now sounds oddly…  See more details below

Overview

There's no denying that Antony Hegarty has a heck of a back-story, from a pervasive gender-identity conflict to an iconoclastic musical vision that made this album the out-of-left-field winner of Britain's prestigious Mercury Music Prize, usually reserved for artists with a far higher profile. At first listen, the mercurial I Am a Bird Now sounds oddly configured, flitting from chamber music to torchy jazz, but Antony's voice -- a marvelously fluid instrument that bridges quavery alto and husky tenor -- holds things together with remarkable tenacity. He sings openly (and often) of sexual issues that are hardly commonplace, but songs like "For Today I Am a Boy" don't exude the slightest whiff of shock value, merely an intense vulnerability that's guaranteed to elicit empathy. At times sparse to the point of fragility (like the piano ballad "Hope There's Someone") and at times lovingly orchestrated (the florid "My Lady Story"), the disc's songs maintain an unflagging intimacy that holds up even when the room gets filled by guests like Boy George (Antony's duet partner on "You Are My Sister") or Rufus Wainwright (who appears on "Spiraling"). As trite as flight metaphors conjured up by its title might seem, I Am a Bird Now soars gracefully at every turn.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Christopher Monger
Antony and the Johnsons' second full-length recording, the haunting and affecting I Am a Bird Now, is a far more intimate affair than their debut. Antony's bluesy parlor room cadence is more upfront here, resulting in a listening experience that's both exhilarating and disquieting. "Hope There's Someone" is a somber opener, and its plea for companionship, augmented by a sparse piano/vocal arrangement that rises into the air by song's end in a swirl of multi-tracked harmonies, is ultimately uplifting. This formula is applied to much of the record and never ceases to elicit honest emotion from either Antony or his numerous guests. Rufus Wainwright takes the lead on "What Can I Do?," a languid meditation on death that conjures up images of rainy streets, lonely lampposts, and cigar smoke -- it's brief (under two minutes) but alluring like the cover of a Raymond Chandler novel. Boy George joins Antony for a duet on the soulful and empowering "You Are My Sister," Devendra Banhart lends his warbly tenor to the lush "Spiraling," and Lou Reed plays noodly guitar and recites an anonymous poem on the mischievous "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.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/01/2005
Label:
Secretly Canadian
UPC:
0656605010519
catalogNumber:
105
Rank:
22820

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Antony and the Johnsons   Primary Artist
Antony   Indexed Contributor,Organ,Piano,Vocals,Voices
Boy George   Vocals,Voices
Lou Reed   Guitar,Vocals,Voices
Todd Cohen   Drums
Julia Kent   Cello
Doug Wieselman   Saxophone
John Bollinger   Drums
Rufus Wainwright   Vocals,Voices
Joan Wasser   Viola
Parker Kindred   Drums
Jason Hart   Piano
Steven Bernstein   Trumpet,Horn
Paul Shapiro   Trumpet,Horn
Devendra Banhart   Guitar,Vocals,Voices
Rainy Orteca   Bass
Maxim Moston   Violin
Jeff Langston   Bass,Bass Guitar
Danielle Farina   Viola
Keith Bonnen   Flute
Joan Wassen   Viola
Julia Yasuda   Voices
Todd Cohen   Drums
Keith Bonner   Flute

Technical Credits

Julia Kent   String Arrangements
Doug Wieselman   Horn Arrangements
Antony   Producer,Drawing
Maxim Moston   String Arrangements
Julia Yasuda   Contributor

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Customer Reviews

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I Am a Bird Now 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Antony has a classic sound.......His haunting vocals shine through on this fantastic recording...Fistful of Love sounds as if Antony is singing to a lost lover....The spoken word intro by Lou Reed adds to the lost love effect....Antony has alot of overtones of the great Nina Simone and a of touch Bryan Ferry with a dash Roy Orbinson mixed in...This is the sound of heartbreak and tragedy.......This album should be heard by all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this album based on a rave review of a London concert that I read, not knowing anything about this artist. (I'm open to listening to new things) The first time I played the CD I admit I was taken aback, but on subsequent playings I find I really enjoy this album. I went to Paris earlier this year and brought the CD with me, thinking it would add a great ambience to the apartment there, and it did. My roomates (comprising a wide age-group range) were taken by it too. Live a little. Become free like Anthony.
Lenon More than 1 year ago
I discovered Antony singing Cohen songs on Leonard Cohen's DVD I'm Your Man. Amazing talent. His music cuts straight to my heart. Thus when Leonard Cohen played The Beacon Theater in NYC, followed by Antony and the Johnsons the next night at The Town Hall, I was in heaven. Antony and the Johnsons raise the bar of musical accomplishment. Listen to them with an open musical mind.
HCaulfield11 More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure I would be able to deal with this kind of music every time Antony & The Johnsons puts out a record, but "I Am A Bird Now" is the beautiful realization of all of the EPs and overheard tracks that came and went through the pages of those Indier-Than-Thou magazines. There's not a single uptempo song on the record, unless you count "Fistfull of Love" (but then, that's kind of just relative to the rest of the record), but the storytelling within the ballads keeps the album moving along nicely. With his choice of genre, I think that Antony was smart to go with nine songs (plus one strange interlude). The album doesn't drag on, but almost leaves an echo when it's through, resounding the effect that the short time has had on you. The highlights "I Am A Bird Now" include "For Today I Am A Boy", a haunting, cacophonic installment in Antony's canon of gender-confusion; "Bird Girl", the heartbreaking closer that extends a metaphor to comprehend mortality; And, my personal favorite, "Fistfull of Love" with Lou Reed, which turns the basic, rolling chords of an old-school ballad into a narrative about abusive love. Don't expect to take flight after a listen to "I Am A Bird Now". It's a record that deals with very specific, very heavy thoughts. But it does so with an undeniable artistry and sensitivity.