A touching well of raw emotion
For someone who identifies with Boy George, Antony is a curious creature. All of the album notes express the kind of gender insecurity expected from Bowie-esque glitter stars, but Antony and the Johnsons are possibly what happens when you strip Bowie and Boy George down to their bare emotions.
Hearing Antony's voice is like an epiphany that could keep you away from the pop world for years. It's the kind of voice that expresses nature and emotion in the most striking way. "Hope There's Someone" is a beautiful track reminiscent of Jeff Buckley's piano based melodies, although truth be told it's hard to concentrate on anything other than Antony's effortless falsetto. The swirling vocals and piano towards the end are so sensuous that lying back and imagining the sea is almost inevitable.
"My Lady Story" has a deep and calming build up of gospel-sounding and almost medieval vocals, probably unrivalled for hundreds of years. "For Today I Am A Boy" expresses the blurring of gender which Antony has apparently experienced since his childhood, "one day I'll grow up feeling full and pure/ but today I am a child". Ironically Antony's voice drops to its deepest and most self-assuredly masculine during this devout song.
"Man Is A Baby" could be a stripped down show tune, but in need of no physical presence to put across its tender lullaby. The juxtaposition of major and minor in the unbearably short "What Can I Do?" is amazingly powerful; with Rufus Wainwright expressing Antony's delicate sentiments "What can I do when she's calling my name/she's crying mama help me to live". If you're of a delicate disposition, I'd avoid listening to this one with company. Other guests revelling in the artistry of "I Am A Bird Now", include Boy George, who adds his quirky, wavering vocals to the languishing "You Are My Sister", Lou Reed, whose lazy blues guitar is a novel touch and Devendra Banhart.
Musically, it mostly resembles an easy-listening album, but it's almost impossible to keep as background music because the tunes and vocals are so direct that it feels like you're Antony's emotional doppelganger. It's the kind of album that is brimming with secret meanings and stunning little twists that anyone tuned in is dying to pass on. You could write a thesis on the lyrics alone. Antony's songs are so touching that he could be the very author of beauty itself.