Hailed as “the best thing since Patti Smith” by Brian Eno, as well as being included in the BBC’s Sound of 2011 list, the hype surrounding London-born Anna Calvi came to a crescendo in late 2010. Gaining critical acclaim among music journalists, Calvi drew comparisons with passionate and brooding musicians like Nick Cave and Polly Jean Harvey. The dense and rich musical influences that inhabit Calvi’s world are broad and distinctive strokes of sultry flamenco, smoke-filled blues, and seductive goth pop/rock. Adding to this tapestry of influences, Calvi claims to have been inspired by the films of David Lynch, Gus Van Sant, and Wong Kar Wai; the cinematic element to her music contributes a mysterious and unyielding undercurrent to her work.
At the age of 17, after eschewing art school in favor of a music degree, Calvi began to learn her trade and assemble musical partnerships. In 2006, she met percussionist and harmonium player Mally Harpaz, and later recruited drummer Daniel Maiden-Wood. The release of her debut single, “Jezebel,” in the fall of 2010 was an electric cover version of the Edith Piaf standard. The young Calvi soon captured the attention of Domino Records boss Lawrence Bell after a glowing reference from former Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones, who had witnessed one of Calvi’s gigs in Manchester. Bell quickly signed her to his label. Ryder-Jones was not the only celebrity admirer of Calvi’s, an acquaintance of the aforementioned Brian Eno similarly urged him to listen to this emerging talent. After hearing Calvi’s raw and unplugged performances on The Attic Sessions (the early demos that she recorded on an eight-track in her parents’ attic), the distinguished producer soon became her mentor and unofficial cheerleader.
Calvi entered Black Box studio in France with the much-lauded producer Rob Ellis to record her self-titled debut album in 2010. Using vintage analog equipment, Calvi created a velvet Wall of Sound that justified the hype in the buildup to its 2011 release. Following the release of her debut album, Calvi was inundated with award nominations, with accolades such as Best British Breakthrough Act at the BRITS in 2012, and she was presented with the European Border Breaks alongside being invited to judge that year’s prestigious Mercury Prize. Toward the end of 2012 she lent her powerful voice to Noah and the Whale’s title track, “Heart of Nowhere,” between sessions for her second release, One Breath, which was issued in 2013. Strange Weather, an EP of covers, arrived the following year.