It is not a secret that songwriter / vocalist Antony Hegarty is undoubtedly one of today’s most unique voices. Since 2000 he, alongside his band Antony & The Johnsons, have released two amazing studio recordings and countless EPs. In 2005 he won a Mercury Music Prize for his second full length album I Am A Bird Now dazzling fans with his amazing vibrato and touching songwriting skills.
Finally the third offering from Antony & The Johnsons is their best to date without a doubt. From the opening track Her Eyes Are Underneath The Ground, which left me breathless and teary eyed to the very end of this album, the listener is taken on a journey of sheer beauty. Antony continues to challenge modern music norms incorporating true heartfelt emotion with a soundtrack that at times sounds like a Disney movie.
His voice shines with warmth and richness whilst maintaining his unique vibrato that has become his signature. There is not a bad song on this CD. As per usual his words are touching and expressive, so much so I have found myself wiping away tears as his words continue to deal with expression, inclusion, sorrow and joy.
Track two Epilepsy Is Dancing is warm and eccentric as his voice is surrounded by an amazing selection of instruments. He pleads “Cut me in quadrants, Leave me in the corner, Oh now it’s passing, Oh now I’m dancing” as the music builds to a crescendo.
There are just so many great songs on offer here. “Offer me mercy,” he begs on the third track One Dove and by the song’s end I find I’m in tears, totally believing his plight and already exhausted.
Kiss My Name picks up the pace as the drums kick in to the backing of the sweetest violin and piano, before the title track takes you back to the tranquil beauty that floods this recording with the title track The Crying Light.
Another World is definitely the stand out track for me as it is just so relevant regarding today’s climate change issues. “I’m gonna miss the sea, I’m gonna miss the snow, I’m gonna miss the bees, I’ll miss the things that grow, I’m gonna miss the trees, I’m gonna miss the sound, I’ll miss the animals, I’m gonna miss you all. I need another place, Will there be peace? I need another world, This one’s nearly gone.” This song is absolutely heartbreaking.
I am astounded this band have never really cracked the mainstream. Then again, when I turn on most commercial radio all I seem to here is bubblegum pop rubbish from the latest TV produced “idols” and one hit wonders with no substance.
There is no doubt this album is one of the most beautiful and poignant releases I have heard in a long time. It’s not often a CD comes out that has such a profound effect on me. Maybe it is because I am transgender and Antony has a long history writing lyrics about gender variant people. I believe no matter who you are these songs in some way will touch your heart. I have had it on constant repeat for the past week and still find myself getting teary upon hearing certain tracks.
For those of you who are already Antony & The Johnsons fans make sure this fine third release is in your collection. There are moments of pure avant garde noise interlaced with intricate and sweet melodies, all the while backed by the amazing voice of Antony. There is not much more I can say about this CD. I am genuinely in love with The Crying Light and feel totally cleansed and glad to be alive upon every listen.