Single Review: Anna Calvi – Blackout

By on Thursday, 7th April 2011 at 12:00 pm

MTV Brand New for 2011 long-lister Anna Calvi was described at the end of 2010 by the Guardian’s Paul Lester as follows: “moody, melodramatic goth-pop”, and worse, “this highly touted singer creates music full of brooding intensity and simmering sensuality. It just sounds all too familiar”. Funny. For some reason, Chinese people (my parents included) just love ballroom dance rhythms (take rumba, for example). So you can understand that the fact that some reviewer on Lammo’s Roundtable talked about her as having a “tango sensibility” frightened the bejeesus out of me. Even her appearance – lots of red and black drama, perhaps best described as flamenco chic? – is scary to me.

The video for ‘Blackout’ should make you think maybe the song should have been called ‘Red and Blackout’. Train tracks and strange, blurry and hallucinogenic images of Calvi swirl across the screen. Personally, I was getting a touch of motion sickness. There’s much talk about her guitar work, but she doesn’t play it in the video; instead, she’s posturing around like a woman from the set of Robert Palmer’s ‘Addicted to Love’ video (ruby red lips; hair pulled back; with big, embellished eyebrows and eyelashes). It’s hard to take her seriously with a video like this. And there’s owl-like hooting in the lyrics. Ummm…

I’m not completely sold on Calvi – honestly, I have no idea if someone can make two albums based purely on ‘tango guitar’, so where is she going to go for album #2? – but I will give that she does have a pretty nice voice. Hopefully she can take her talents to some uncharted territory next time.



Anna Calvi’s single ‘Blackout’ is available now from Domino Records, as is her self-titled debut album (released in January).

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One Response

3:20 pm
7th April 2011

Mary, I just heard you on Radcliffe and Maconie’s show. I’m an American in the UK, and it was fun to hear an American getting to select the next song for The Chain.

I’ll visit this blog from time to time and see what you’re writing about. I would imagine you’ve gotten LOADS of hits after being on UK radio this afternoon!

Oxfordshire, UK

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