ANNA CALVI: Hunted (Domino Recordings, 2020)

Anna Calvi - Hunted (2020, 320 kbps, File) | Discogs

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“Early in her career, the full force of Anna Calvi’s vocal and guitar virtuosity was so formidable that she sounded virtually immortal. With time, however, her work has become more open and vulnerable, and on 2018’s Hunter, she explored strength, fragility, masculinity, and femininity in ways that let the humanity of her music shine through. Calvi takes another step in this direction with Hunted, a collection of Hunter demos that she revisits with the help of some talented friends. Letting her audience hear these songs being born — or in this case, reborn — is an intimate act in itself. As Hunter suggested, Calvi is no less powerful when she lets down her guard and peels away a few pieces of musical armor. By liberating “Hunter” from the beats that hit home the song’s point on the album, it’s free to float between joy and sorrow even more gracefully while heightening its stark beauty; if possible, Hunted’s version of “Away”‘s roomy sound and slight fret buzz makes its rainy day loneliness even more palpable. Calvi’s collaborations on Hunted call to mind her 2014 EP Strange Weather, where she worked with the likes of David Byrne. However, the artists supporting her here might be even more thoughtfully chosen. Julia Holter heightens the glassy ethereality of “Swimming Pool”‘s rippling guitars and translucent harmonies, while Charlotte Gainsbourg’s delicate vocals provide the perfect contrast to Calvi’s muscular singing on “Eden.” Though much of Hunted explores the softer, quieter side of her music, some of its brightest highlights happen when Calvi turns up the volume, as on the Courtney Barnett-assisted “Don’t Beat the Girl out of My Boy.” With the help of Idles’ Joe Talbot, she turns “Wish” into a menacing, unguarded duet that’s as filmic as anything that appeared on Hunter. As inspired as these collaborations are, it’s fitting that Hunted’s wildest, purest moment is just Calvi and her guitar: Her demo version of “Indies or Paradise” lunges and howls, suggesting a much more intimate version of her 2010 debut single “Jezebel.” Back then, she was powerful enough to make a name for herself with her indomitable music; years later, she’s strong enough to let her listeners come closer. A striking and necessary companion to Hunter, Hunted expands that album’s world — and Calvi’s artistry” (All Music)

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