Album Reviews

Album Review: Anna Calvi - Hunted (Domino)

Reuben Raj
Anna Calvi - Eden (feat. Charlotte Gainsbourg) (Hunted Version)

Indie-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist, Anna Calvi, revisits her demo recordings of 2018’s Hunter with Courtney Barnett, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Julia Holter and Joe Talbot from IDLES… stripping back and reworking the first recordings of songs from Hunter into a new mini-album appropriately titled, Hunted.

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Calvi’s third studio album, Hunter was explosive and ferocious with uncompromising songs tinged with both the violence of a predator (As A Man, Alpha) and remorse of a penitent sinner (Chains, Away). The incredible sound of Hunter was crafted by the much sought-after Nick Launay along with contributions from Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Bad Seed Martyn P. Casey. In comparison, Hunted is no less visceral and immodest.

Hunted begins with a new version of Swimming Pool that calls attention to ethereal harmonies with Julia Holter against a haunting soundscape… conjuring up images of swirling mist above a wintry lake at the break of dawn. I dressed myself in leather / With flowers in my hair / The red light of the window / Nothing can compare… The lyrics take more prominence in the Hunted version of Hunter, whispered in time to the mournful notes of Calvi’s guitar work.

I tell a lie / On your bed so small / With your heroes on the wall. Calvi and Charlotte Gainsbourg fuse the uniqueness of their vocal styles and transform Eden into a different celestial form. Calvi herself reproduces Away, taking the track down to bare bones; blunt and brutal… her fingers scratching across the fretboard like a blade against the grindstone as she softly sings about the ‘rage in the sky and a moment sublime’.

But it is the union of Calvi and Courtney Barnett on Don’t Beat The Girl out of My Boy that stands out just a little bit more. No crashing drums or keys, both guitarists twist and turn their chords, standing up for each other to expose the brutal and potency of the track, illuminating gore like incandescent light inside a slaughterhouse.

The 7-track album ends with Wish featuring Joe Talbot and the rise and fall of Calvi’s signature guitar sound. On the last track, Calvi lets it all go - uninhibited and unwavering on Indies or ParadiseCrawl down, down on my knees / Crawling through the trees, like an animal / I taste taste taste of the dirt / Taste the dirt of us… Calvi slams and nurtures the harsh distortion of guitar, longing for ‘the air in paradise’. Dirty. Raw. Intimate.

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Hunted is an unfiltered and unabashed version of Anna Calvi’s best work to date. Get the new mini-album out 06 March on Domino.

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Released: 06 Mar 2020

Written By: Reuben Raj Reuben is a film and digital photographer who is driven by music in his head. Often seen lurking behind a camera inside the pit of a concert or wandering the streets of China with a blond, Reuben harbours intimate feelings for vinyl records and his Hasselblad SW/C from 1965. He is also the founder of Radio 13.