Antony and the Johnson’s breakthrough second album I Am a Bird Now won the UK’s Mercury Prize in 2005. The success that followed introduced many to a pioneering soul singer exploring themes that traversed darkness and light, life and death, male and female. Antony’s inimitable voice sparked the interest of artists ranging from Bjork to Hercules and Love Affair, resulting in a series of critically acclaimed collaborations.
The Crying Light is the highly anticipated full-length follow-up to I Am a Bird Now. Here, Antony shifts the thematic focus and explores his relationship with the elemental and natural world, and the intimacy of the Johnsons’ sound is enveloped by subtle symphonic arrangements. The first moments of “Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground” set the stage, conjuring an animist world with enigmatic lyrics, painterly clarinet lines, and a lilting piano that cradles the listener over a menacing quarry of strings. The spiraling waltz of “Epilepsy Is Dancing” and the joyful ricochets of “Kiss My Name” are to follow. The record’s centerpiece, “Another World” traces despair in the face of a vanishing landscape. The hypnotic vocal on “Dust and Water” unfurls like smoke, and the track “Everglade”, co-arranged with Nico Muhly, concludes the album. Here Antony realizes that his “…Limbs (have) stopped Crying for Home…” and falls into a musical reverie that seems inspired in its sense of pastoral abandon by the legendary Butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno, whose eerie portrait graces the cover of The Crying Light .
Antony and the Johnsons’ music bridges the gap between avant-classical music and the blues, and Antony and his band have sold out performances from Carnegie Hall to the Apollo. The Crying Light may become one of those albums that becomes emblematic of its time, a reflection of the momentous changes that we are facing, within each of our private worlds as well as collectively, and how we are summoning the courage to start moving through them.
The Crying Light will be released January 20th, 2009.