tue 15/10/2019

CD: Cut the World - Antony & the Johnsons | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Cut the World - Antony & the Johnsons

CD: Cut the World - Antony & the Johnsons

Mistress of the intimate goes orchestral

Antony & the Johnsons' career-spanning live symphonic album

Antony & the Johnsons’ melancholy songs of love and loss, steeped in a contemporary classical aesthetic, lend themselves to the full orchestral treatment. There is also something theatrical about the singer’s delivery, not so much high opera hysterics as more subtle explorations of the darker ranges of human emotion. Cut the World brings together live orchestral versions of a number of Antony’s best tracks drawn from his four studio albums. The title track alone is a new composition, featuring the artist’s signature sense of poetry, vocals whose quality of almost unbearable vulnerability create moments of outstanding beauty.

The "orchestral version" has become a genre and while Antony’s material unquestionably lends itself to the lush textures of a full band, subtly arranged by the composer Nico Muhly, Rob Moose, Maxim Moston and Antony himself, the original versions of songs like “You Are My Sister”, “Swanlights” or “I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy” have a classic quality that cannot be superseded. The vocal sound achieved in a studio is inevitably more intimate, in complete accord with the emotional open-ness that has made Antony’s voice so distinctive. In front of an orchestra, he knows better than to slip into diva histrionics, and maintains an edgy vulnerability and subtle vibrato (never as mannered as Devendra Banhart’s), as if he were secretely sharing his pain and joy with each member of the audience, but there is a measure of distance which slightly alters the impact of the songs.

The album includes a brief spoken essay on “Future Feminism”, a subject close to Antony’s heart. The sentiments expressed provide a cerebral though passionate counterpoint to the songs but the message is more convincingly evoked in the tenderness of his medium – a transgender voice that challenges the armoured and unfeeling postures of excessive masculinity that characterise so much of contemporary life.

Watch "Future Feminism"

He knows better than to slip into diva histrionics, and maintains an edgy vulnerability and subtle vibrato


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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