There may only be two of them to date, but it is already clear that when you drop the needle on an Anna Calvi record, you enter a world quite unlike any other. Her world is one of cinematic flair, of drama and passion communicated through records which feel like soundtracks to imagined films. Her debut album seemed to position her directly between comparisons to PJ Harvey and Jeff Buckley, but it should have already been apparent that she would not be so easy to pigeonhole.
That record hardly lacked confidence, and yet on One Breath she returns even bolder, brasher; words like self-assured do not begin to describe the force with which she lays out her vision on this record. Where the brilliance of ‘Blackout’ teased among the more brooding sound of her first album, One Breath does not hold back. The stomp-along ‘Eliza’ is a powerful statement conveyed both through a stunning voice and some stunning guitar work.
The urgency of this record is often carried through aggressiveness, as the sounds flip from sweet and beguiling to angry and violent with barely a blink of an eye. Sweet sultry vocals precede great blasts of noise on ‘Piece By Piece’, a pattern continued by the schizophrenic screams of ‘Cry’. It’s unsettling but absorbing, and hardly prepares you for the classic beauty of the strings which bring ‘Sing To Me’ to a glorious crescendo.
The title track begins the flip side in an upbeat tone, in contrast to the almost unrelenting gloom of her debut but it is only a primer for a sudden switch to anger on the abrasive ‘Love of My Life’. All these swirling emotions seem to come together on the outstanding ‘Carry Me Over’, a sensual love song that finds Calvi at her most alluring. “It’s my body that I trust, deeper than my voice, deeper to the sound of my heart,” she sings before launching into the killer chorus line. It’s the crowning glory of a record on which Calvi marshals a myriad of sounds and moods to produce a coherent whole, a stunning second album which cements her place as a unique artist.