Antony and the Johnsons: I Am A Bird Now
There is a myth that great artists operate in seclusion. One need look no further than to the ten songs of Antony and the Johnsons' new album, I Am A Bird Now, to realize this is an utter fallacy. To be sure, with his androgynous features, the singularly named Antony is an original. Have you ever heard a voice like this, imbued with the transcendental emotion of the blues, yet deployed with an unadorned simplicity reminiscent of medieval music practice, and graced with a top note of childlike wonder? Or songs that blur distinctions of gender and identity, yet which still summon up such powerful feelings: longing, love, lust, loss? No. Because Antony is one-of-a-kind. But he is certainly not alone. We are proud to present you with a record filled with one of the most gifted voices heard in a long time. Antony's vocals are almost inhuman, coming together to compile a creature that's as beautiful and enigmatic as the Peter Hujar photo, Candy Darling on Her Deathbed, that graces its cover. The lead-off single to I Am A Bird Now, "Fistful of Love" is perhaps Antony & the Johnsons' finest work to date. It features a scorching horn section and subcultural icon Lou Reed on vocals and searing lead guitar. In the tradition of subversive soul classics The Crystals' "He Hit me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" and Millie Jackson's "Hurts So Good," Antony sings this ode to getting the shit kicked out of you and learning to love every minute of it. The complex emotional undertow of this track reaches a cathartic roar by the song’s finale. Antony shifts from a tremble to a wail — a tempest of emotion. I Am A Bird Now also includes contributions from friends Boy George (duet with Antony on "You Are My Sister"), Devandra Banhart (vocals on "Spiralling"), and Rufus Wainright (lead vocals on "What Can I Do").