I Am a Bird Nowby Antony and the Johnsons
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/i>… See more details below
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.
- Release Date:
- Secretly Canadian
Performance CreditsAntony 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 CreditsJulia Kent String Arrangements
Doug Wieselman Horn Arrangements
Maxim Moston String Arrangements
Julia Yasuda Contributor
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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.
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.
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.
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.