“Hope there’s someone to take care of me / when I die” The opening lyrics of Antony and the Johnsons I am a Bird Now, delivered in a clear high vibrato somewhat like Nina Simone channeled through Jeff Buckley, evokes a kind of universal longing, burning beneath the shadows of fear and loneliness. It’s a feeling that resonates on a very personal level, and is strengthened by the immaculate string arrangements and ensemble playing that accompany Antony’s singular presence.
Coming from New York’s downtown art scene, Antony eploded into indie consciousness in 2004, collaborating with everyone from avant-rock legends Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson to future-folk star children Devendra Banhart and Coco Rosie. Blurring the lines between avant-garde chamber music and soulful jazz balladry, Antony’s music has an almost theatrical presence, immersing the listener in a swooning midnight universe. This is late-night listening to comfort and confuse simultaneously in a nuanced, narcotic haze.
At just over 30 minutes, I Am a Bird Now is deceptively short; a beautifully concise effort that demands to be listened to in one sitting, and rewards the experience with a glittering sonic halo. The album opener “Hope There’s Someone” flows from its piercing melancholy into a spiraling, Philip Glass-inspired piano fractal. Moving from moods of sorrow and loneliness, to a triumphant embrace of the moment in “For Today I Am a Boy,” Antony covers whole spectrums of emotion – even adopting Lou Reed’s R&B confessional tone to launch “Fistful of Love” (already superbly covered by Devendra Banhart) into the realm of classic rock songs.
It should be mentioned that I Am a Bird Now is not easy listening and serves as an extremely personal statement, which twists the listener