There is a myth that great artists operate in seclusion. One need look no further than to the ten songs of Antony and the Johnsons’ new album, ‘I Am A Bird Now’, to realize this is an utter fallacy. To be sure, with his androgynous features, the singularly named Antony is an original. Have you ever heard a voice like this, imbued with the transcendental emotion of the blues, yet deployed with an unadorned simplicity reminiscent of medieval music practice, and graced with a top note of childlike wonder? Or songs that blur distinctions of gender and identity, yet which still summon up such powerful feelings: longing, love, lust, loss? No. Because Antony is one-of-a-kind. But he is certainly not alone.
‘I Am A Bird Now’, the second full-length from this extraordinary New York artist and his cohorts, 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. “Everyone’s presence on the record shows them at their most unique, making a special contribution that is specific to them,” says Antony. He arranged each one with painstaking precision, like a director creating an extended tableau on stage.