Last year, virtuoso guitarist and songwriter Anna Calvi released a great collection of original material titled One Breath that didn’t get the attention that her self-titled debut received. There is no real explaining why, except maybe that it just didn’t catch the right channels of influence, as the press hasn’t been shy about proclaiming adoration of her previously, and she came into the music scene bearing a cosign from Brian Eno. It was an unfortunate lapse in the media, and on her new covers EP, Calvi responds with five non-originals that are going to be hard to not pay attention to.
For one, David Byrne appears on two songs, the Keren Ann title-track and Connan Mockasin’s “I’m the Man, That Will Find You.” Nico Muhly is enlisted for string arrangements. And the songs of David Bowie, FKA Twigs and Suicide are also featured. But despite all these other creative touchstones, Strange Weather serves to remind all of Calvi’s distinct talent.
The title track, a duet with Byrne, occupies the space between sensuality and darkness and theater, like a venn diagram of Calvi’s preferred aesthetics, which slowly heat like a kettle until a wash of tin-lined feedback swallows the song whole. Elsewhere the music drifts from hauntingly spare on “Lady Grinning Soul” to the lusty, bass-groove driven “I’m the Man, That Will Find You.” Maybe best is the fury of “Ghost Rider,” tense and wild like Nick Cave, her old touring partner. Strange Weather is a brief look at an artist’s range and acts like a splash of cold water to pay attention to Calvi’s every note, as she continues to be one of the most slept-on musical marvels around. The strange fact that it might be a covers EP to do this undersells just how original these covers are.