Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Antony and the Johnsons

There is a review in the New York Times of the peculiar singer Antony. As you may remember, Lou Reed is his "mentor." Here are some bits:

...He calls himself Antony and his loose-knit group Antony and the Johnsons. On Sunday night, Antony appeared at Joe's Pub cloaked in nothing more outlandish than a dark dinner jacket. He was joined by the five Johnsons: a guitarist, a bassist, two violinists and a cellist. And from the moment he folded himself onto a piano bench and sent his beautiful voice wafting out into the room, this was a witty, almost perversely casual concert.

The songs inspired an intense, hushed joy. You could see it on the candlelit faces of the people in the audience; some had their eyes closed. But Antony kept puncturing the mood, as if he were playing some sly game, and maybe he was. He would noisily adjust the microphone before the music had died down, or follow a sublime performance with some ridiculous aside. After one soaring song, he half-jokingly apologized: "Gosh, sorry, I got a little screamy on that one."

...Antony once told an interviewer, "The faggotry of what I do is so extreme," and his songs evoke a world as powerful and unsteady as his voice, full of characters trying to figure out the distance between what they are and what they love. One of the first songs he sang was "My Lady Story," from his new album "I Am a Bird" (Secretly Canadian), due out Feb. 15. "My lady story is one of annihilation/My lady story is one of breast amputation," he murmured, pouring his voice into the notes until they overflowed.

...The album also includes contributions from Lou Reed, who has become a mentor to Antony, and the eccentric folkie Devendra Banhart, along with Boy George, who joins Antony on a weird, luminous love song, "You Are My Sister." When Antony sang it alone, at the end of the set, it was hard to tell whether he was pining for the voice that wasn't there or celebrating the one that was.

He returned after a few moments for an encore, although he stopped himself after a few bars. "Do I sound like Tori Amos?" he wanted to know, and after the crowd assured him that he did not, he rewarded them with a mean little story about Ms. Amos. The night eventually ended with a glowing version of "I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy" (in which he croons, "You're such a beautiful boy/I ask him, are you a boy or a girl?"), and while the last chord was still ringing, Antony said, "O.K., so we're done for the night," and soon he was gone.
I might have to give this gentleman a listen.

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