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4.4 out of 5 stars
Antony and the Johnsons
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2005
If you read the reviews of any of Antony's albums and EPs, here or the UK site, you may find that being rendered speechless after listening to his music is mentioned frequently. I consider this not only accurate but also likely to happen to anyone who may listen to this, his debut, album or its follow-up, the Mercury Prize winner "I Am A Bird Now."

It has been a long time since a singer or songwriter -Antony is both- has moved me so deeply with the dramatic range of his voice, the enveloping depth of his melodies or the courage of his words.

Just consider "Cripple And The Starfish" and "Hitler In My Heart," the second and third cuts, that -particularly if listened together- will absolutely floor you with the tender courage of their lyrics and the glorious beauty of Antony's voice.

For those who may not know his work, I may not be able to offer the kind of references that can serve them well. In term of genre, you can't call it Pop or Alternative, for instance, and expect to have a reliable idea of what you'll hear. If I have to put a style label to this music I'd have to coin a new one, "Alterative," because that's exactly what it might do to you: alter you.

Finally, since I haven't mentioned them yet, a word about The Johnsons. Their sound -almost a chamber ensemble, with the addition of drums and bass- is particularly suited for this music and exquisitely performed. "Divine," a beautiful tribute to the star of many John Waters films, "Twilight" and "The Atrocities" are another three great examples of the band's gift for accompanying Antony.

Although, to my taste, I Am A Bird Now of some songs in the recent EPs (I've reviewed them too, in their pages- may be even more mature statements, this album must be given your full attention. This is a solid five-star album and the first powerful document of an amazing new voice.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2004
I had the pleasure of meeting Antony in Italy and seeing him (along with the lovely Julia Kent on cello) perform live in an opening slot for COIL. I was happy to see that the magic was well-captured on cd. His voice is haunting and beautiful and some of these songs will just cut you right open. If you need proof, just listen to "starfish" and "hitler". He has another ep with an enchanting track about being in love with a dead boy; I suggest seeking that one out as well.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2005
Absolutely incredible CD! Antony has the most beautiful, haunting voice that I've heard in a decade. He's been compared to many artists, but is truly in a class of his own. For the people who claim that there are no longer any truly unique talents, Antony and the Johnsons have arrived. It's impossible to put this music in any catagory, but, if you like moody, soulful vocals and lyrics that are equally hopeful and depressing, this is the one for you.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2002
the lyrics and the intensity of their delivery are incredible. verging on the bathetic the album skims aloft to the sublime. images of extreme angst and joy. i loved this album and listened to it constantly for weeks and when i heard it playing in a bar i was mesmerized all over again. antony's singing voice is a sort of alto falsetto that morphs the lyrics' meanings into other dimensions and one can't be sure from what depths their message springs. the instrumentation is unique and well played with cellos, violins, piano in sometimes, it appears, deliberately kitchy yet sophisticated orchestrations. the lyrics are well crafted and full of startling images. i highly recommend this album as a unique and well crafted work.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2005
I can't quite find the talent to write a perfect review for this stellar album, but it's beautiful and unique, in the simplest meaning of those words.

There's a swollen pain in Antony's voice that reflects emotional (and perhaps physical) injuries he speaks of in his lyrics.

Listen to this and the newer album "I Am a Bird Now". Just listen. It's powerful, impressive music. I just can't find the most accurate words to describe his soaring, glamorous voice. Perhaps "majestic" works.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2005
"I didn't know what had been missing from my life 'til i heard Antony & The Johnsons". Both this album and 'I am a bird now' are beautiful and tragic records. This is a very moving album without ever getting depressing. I can hear alot of Bryan Ferry (circa Avalon) and Marc Almond in it. It's easy to picture it being sung by Antony under a bright white spotlight, center stage, in a smokey underground bar in Berlin in the 30's. Roses being thrown, tears being cried, all to rapturous applause...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2005
If asked forcefully to imagine the ideal scenario while listening to Antony and the Johnsons eponymous album I'd have to imagine him sitting in a dark Upper East Side loft, hunched over a metallic and broken desk, sipping merlot and smoking packs of American Spirits. An operatic voice, Antony can grab the happiness from your stomach and turn it into reflection of relationship, love and abuse. But the album isn't Music Noir, it has a sense of doves flying out of their cages.

Like Rufus Wainwright, Antony seems to proudly express his sexual preferences through music and give power to himself by a voice that could shake mountains. An instrument in itself, the chords and levels he reaches bring even the slower songs to a monumental peak and finish. His sound is best displayed in "Cripple and the Starfish" and "Hitler My Heart." The former is a scene about relationship abuse and the strength that Antony might have had to obtain in such a situation. "Hitler My Heart" might be the effect of such a relationship, trying to express his kindness but having an evil side in his heart he can't let go.

The album changes on "River of Sorrow" a title that breads blue and lonely evenings, but reminds that there is promise in the future. "Can you see the light/At the end of the dark passageway/Take me with you towards this light/Into the darkness passing over the faces in the river."

Antony's album is much expected lyrically. He steps wayside to Wainwright in song writing, but where Rufus is strong in text Antony is strong in sound. Antony and the Johnsons can lead you through an album with little care to what is being said. A mother's lullaby has little meaning to a child that understands no language, but is relaxing and shows love. Antony accomplishes this feat with great esteem, and shows much promise outside of the realm of popular music.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2001
Really, no words can describe this CD. It is the most tragic and beautiful collection of songs I have ever heard in my short life. Setting the mood with eerie opener 'Twilight' Antony and his Johnsons could not have got off to a better start. A dark song, with an echoing crescendo. 'Cripple and the Starfish' follows, and this would probably be my favourite. Just listen to it. Song three, 'Hitler in my Heart' has the most beautiful ending a song could ever have. I could go on, but do yourself a favour: Get the CD, turn the lights out, and lay down on the bed. And listen.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2005
this album is not only for antony's fans but for everyone!

his voice is extremely beautifull....played at piano and added more instruments to melodys.

"i am a bird" has more simple harmonies then this debut album..still..a fantastic album!

if you like this one you'll love "i am a bird" or " the lake " ep....well...anyone that likes antony music knows that everysong it's a surprise and waiting to the beauty to come
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2006
A good friend turned us on to Antony and after spending many years in New York listening to great drag acts like Kiki and Herb, my friend's description recalled this genre. But he was off in a big way. There is NOTHING kitsch about Antony (and the Johnsons).

Try to imagine a voice that is the complete merging of Little Jimmy Scott and Nina Simone. Impossible, you say? You would be wrong.

A great jazz legend, I can't remember who, once said that if God had a voice, it would sound like Little Jimmy Scott. She was wrong - God would sound exactly like Antony. Vocals that evoke the most intimate hurts, nostalgic moments that ended epochs of your life, dreams that eluded you, desires that trickled off your fingertips before you could close your hand. This is the voice of Antony. And so much more.

I am still discovering this brilliant artist. After Elliott Smith died, I pretty much stopped listening to anything. I was devastated - any Elliott Smith fan can understand that his death dealt a deep cut into us. Until I found Antony I hadn't found anything as profoundly moving since. I am so greatful for him and his lion-hearted voice.
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