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I am a Bird Now

121 customer reviews

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I Am A Bird Now
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Audio CD, February 1, 2005
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Product Description

I Am A Bird Now, is the second full-length album from extraordinary New York artist, ANTONY & THE JOHNSONS, and features contributions from both Antony's peers (RUFUS WAINWRIGHT, DEVENDRA BANHARDT) and heroes (LOU REED, BOY GEORGE). Their involvement reflects both their admiration for Antony, and his unique place in the contemporary arts community. Antony was recently in Australia to perform at the LEONARD COHEN tribute nights at the Sydney Opera House. BERNARD ZUEL reported in the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: And in the category of "where the hell has he been hiding?" was the hulking, shambling figure of New York singer Antony, who left open mouths on and off the stage with his heart-piercing explorations of The Guests and the prayer-like If It Be Your Will. The reacton from the audience on each night was astounding, they were simply transfixed by his vocal delivery and performance. I Am A Bird Now is going to be 2005s left-field hit record. Antonys gospel songs come from another world.

It’s not often that an album released in January gets called one of the best of the year in near-unison, but the second full length by Antony and the Johnsons is so startlingly beautiful that it simply has to be. Like his friend and compatriot Devendra Banhart, Antony is a super-talented singer-songwriter with a flair for dramatic artsong. But the cherubic Antony is so original he must get mistaken for an alien quite often; he sings like a bluesy opera singer and switches timbre from masculine to feminine in the space of a breath. The only vocal comparison that comes close is Nina Simone. Antony’s honest lyrics deal with deep wounds and troubled desires with matter of fact poetry and subtle humor, as in a short story by JT LeRoy. Aided and abetted by a versatile band that’s often closer to chamber orchestra than rock act, Antony delivers a visionary album with I Am A Bird Now. Oh yeah: Rufus Wainwright, Devendra, Lou Reed and Boy George all appear on here, too. --Mike McGonigal

1. Hope There's Someone
2. My Lady Story
3. For Today I Am A Bouy
4. Man Is The Baby
5. You Are My Sister
6. What Can I Do?
7. Fistful Of Love
8. Spiralling
9. Free At Last
10. Bird Gurhl

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 1, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Secretly Canadian
  • ASIN: B000777J2S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,576 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Juan Mobili on February 19, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Well, this may be one of those "love-it-or-hate-it" cases, the kind of album you'll consider an extraordinary discovery that made your year, or the kind of music that makes unexplainable how the friend who turned you onto it, loves it so much.
What everyone might agree on, though, is that such strong reaction to it comes from one source, the band's powerful presence and distinct identity.
Practically every song hits a deep chord on you, each a different one, and a huge part of it is the exceptional dramatic range of Antony's voice, which infuses of a certain pouring of his heart. Imagine a more romantic and desperate, yet less operatic, Rufus Wainwright, without necessarily going over the edge.
Whether "Hope There's Someone" with its mournful tone, or the gorgeous and chant-like "My Lady Story," or "For Today I'm Not A Boy" which is lovely and difficult -and a high moment in this album- as the music and the lyrics build together. Just in the first three songs, the group shows that they are a new and genuine sensibility.
As comparisons go, Antony and the Johnsons belong to the same emotive thread than the Tindersticks, most present in "Fistful of Love", and taking his own path on "You Are My Sister." Yet, they would not be out of place backing Marianne Faithful or doing covers of Kurt Weil's songs.
The rest of the songs don't fall far behind from those I mentioned. Each may end up your favorite, and can be the code to a secret frequency in your heart, evoked not necessarily by the lyrics but a consistent -not repetitive- feel of being late-night and being alone remembering your life.
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90 of 100 people found the following review helpful By WrtnWrd on March 15, 2005
Format: Audio CD
In the new world of post-cabaret, what sets Antony and the Johnsons apart from your Nellie McKay, your Rufus Wainwright, your Dresden Dolls is the voice, the literal and then the metaphoric one. Antony's vibrato - off-putting at first, or simply unusual - shares the timbre and shadings of early-Bryan Ferry circa Country Life. On their second release, I Am a Bird Now, Antony and the Johnsons speak for changelings of every stripe, specifically to the travails of the transgender community. If that sounds exclusionary, maybe it is, yet I Am a Bird Now is bracing from start to finish. Antony's songs - from "My Lady Story" to "You Are My Sister" to the Motown-styled "Fistful of Love" - are certainly specific to his place in the world, and sensitive to the plight of the sexually confused (or not so confused, as it turns out). Yet a plaint as simple as "For Today I Am a Boy" - in which Antony prays to one day "grow up to be a beautiful woman" - is heartbreaking, because who hasn't wanted to one day grow up to be something other than what they are? Which is to say that there is the pop specific and universal in his songs about a man who feels like a woman getting by in a man's world. Rumor has it that Lou Reed is a big fan, and that Antony's songs make him cry. If Lou Reed sheds a tear for this fierce and talented outsider, what chance do we mere mortals have?
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By someguy on December 28, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Yes, this album isn't for those used to top 40. It may even turn off the most open of listeners. But what you absolutely cannot deny is that the emotion on this album is so rich, pure, and achingly heartfelt that if you listen a sincere ear, as if you were listening to a friend pouring his heart to you, your heart will break wide open right along with him. Some may be annoyed by the vibrato in his voice, but while others do it to be showy and technical, I can feel the emotion behind his voice. Some sing to try and find their emotions. He merely sings what he feels.

This is not the emperor's new clothes. If it were, it wouldn't bring tears to one's eyes. Music is about heart, not song structure, not 100% accuracy, and certainly not appeasing the masses. Oh, and you may also notice that two reviewers that gave this album 1 star used very descriptive words such as "poop" and "turd", respectively. Nice job, guys. I suppose you want to give Antony a wedgie, too?
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By JJ Man on April 25, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Let me start by saying that I recognize that this album is an acquired taste. I can imagine that many listeners will find Antony too dramatic, too depressing, too eccentric, too this, too that. Let me also acknowledge that a lot of my favorite artists are acquired tastes--Bjork, Belle and Sebastian, and so on. I might be more likely to fall for something that is supposedly "mannered" than other music lovers.

More importantly, though, I want to say that this is the most strikingly beautiful and moving album I have heard in years. Antony's singing and songwriting are rich, haunting, and soulful, and I cannot say enough positive things about him. To me, this is a perfect record. Nothing sounds out of place, nothing feels forced. The first song is absolutely heartbreaking, as is the last, and there are several highlights along the way--the stately "My Lady Story," the compassionate "You Are My Sister," the rousing "Fistfull of Love." While there are several "celebrity" guest spots on the record, you never forget who the real star of the show is.

Again, I can understand why people might not like Antony, but in this day and age there is no excuse for purchasing an album and feeling duped because you realize you dislike the singer's voice or style. Listen to sound clips on Amazon or elsewhere--you should be able to tell from that if you completely hate his vocals, and you'll know to avoid his recordings.

For those of you that do like Antony, I recommend checking out the EP's he has released for this album, which contain several excellent B-sides. I'd also recommend checking out his "I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy" EP, which contains three songs that you cannot find on any of his albums.
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