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 oddlySee 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:
0656605010526
catalogNumber:
105
Rank:
33247

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

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

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