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Antony & The Johnsons - Man is the baby


Man is the baby
Antony & The Johnsons
I Am a Bird Now
2007

Yearning for more than a blue day
I enter your new life for me
Burning for the true day
I welcome your new life for me
Forgive me, Let live me
Set my spirit free
Losing, it comes in a cold wave
Of guilt and shame all over me
Child has arrived in the darkness
The hollow triumph of a tree
Forgive me, Let live me
Kiss my falling knee
Forgive me, Let live me
Bless my destiny
Forgive me, Let live me
Set my spirit free
Weakness sown, Overgrown
Man is the baby.

Personnel include: Devendra Banhart, Lou Reed (vocals, guitar); Antony (vocals, piano, organ); Rufus Wainwright, Boy George (vocals); Maxim Moston (violin); Joan Wasser (viola); Julia Kent (cello); Keith Bonner (flute); Doug Wieselman (saxophone); Paul Shapiro, Steve Bernstein (trumpet); Jeff Langston (bass guitar); Parker Kindred, Todd Cohen (drums).

Though he probably achieved his greatest mainstream recognition backing up Lou Reed on tour, idiosyncratic songbird Antony is a fully established artiste in his own right. Backed by the Johnsons, as on I AM A BIRD NOW, he crafts delicate ballads that skirt the lines between cabaret, artsong, and pop, with the kind of voice that Stephin Merritt would probably kill for. Antony's unique pipes bring to mind an androgynous Bryan Ferry or a high, quavery summit meeting between Jimmy Scott (another Reed supporter) and Aaron Neville. The stately, graceful, largely piano-driven songs on I AM A BIRD NOW are full of honest, uncluttered emotion, but never go over the top. The communication is direct and immediate, as wisps of melancholy settle around the listener. Guest shots by kindred spirits Rufus Wainwright, Devendra Banhart, and Reed himself vary the tone a bit, but the fragile beauty of this album is a singular, affecting thing.

Rolling Stone (No. 967, p.84) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[Antony's voice is] an instrument of delicacy and rapture in which Nina Simone, Morrissey and Joni Mitchell seem to inhabit the same breath..."

Spin (p.61) - Ranked #28 in Spin's "40 Best Albums Of 2005" - "[His falsetto] resonates with the power of decidedly nonmale vocalists like Nico and Nina Simone..."

Spin (p.92) - "Scarily intimate and irresistibly beautiful." - Grade: A-

Entertainment Weekly (p.143) - Ranked #10 in Entertainment Weekly's 'Top Ten Records of the Year' - "The music - equal parts muted cabaret and heavenly modern hymns - flies like the bird of the title."

Entertainment Weekly (No. 804/805, p.133) - "[A] strings-garnished plunge into the depths of heartbreak (and gender-bending)..." - Grade: B+

Uncut (p.105) - 4 stars out of 5 - "Antony's eloquent tales of alienation an love, played with Bad Seeds vigour by The Johnsons, are precious but palatable, and provoke compelling vocals from seasoned outsiders."

The Wire (p.41) - Included in The Wire's "2005 Rewind: 50 Records Of The Year."

The Wire (p.51) - "[I]t's Antony's voice that will move you, make you swoon."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.56) - Ranked #1 in Mojo's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2005" - "Not just a truly brilliant record, but a record that seemed to promise that the pop music mainstream need never be the same again."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.62) - Ranked #43 in Mojo's "100 Modern Classics" -- "[L]onesome tales of heartbreak, longing and loss, finally arriving at some kind of redemption. An essential journey."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.88) - 5 stars out of 5 - "[T]his is tough, honest, uncompromising beauty and the next great voice in music."

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