Review Summary: Another solid release from one of the few original singer-songwriters around.
This five-track EP from Antony & the Johnsons arrives two months before the release of his fourth full-length, Swanlights, giving us the chance to speculate on what may be forthcoming. Last year’s The Crying Light pushed the singer’s sound into modern classical territory with breathtaking results, but while Thank You for Your Love does resemble its predecessor at times with its subtle string and horn arrangements, it finds Antony’s sound becoming increasingly minimal. Whether we can draw anything from these songs remains to be seen - Antony has described Swanlights as featuring “strange percussive elements, John Cale-esque string drones, heavily distorted guitars and symphonic winds and strings” – of which few are located here.
The title track is taken from the forthcoming album, but it’s difficult to gauge any impact the track might have here. The song is certainly enjoyable, if nothing outstanding, but Antony’s best work has always needed context. It took the framework of The Crying Light for ‘Another World’ to truly shine, so it would be wrong to make any hasty judgements. Exactly who Antony is thanking is unclear, and the second song ‘You are the Treasure’ gives no further indication as to who the singer is addressing. If there is a theme to this collection of tracks it is more evident on the second half, where there’s a noticeable subject of religion and devotion. The centre piece ‘My Lord My Love’ finds Antony crooning “my Lord, my love / take care of the ones you say you love”, echoing the title track. However, rather than infer anything overtly Christian from these lyrics, it might be fair to say that Antony is exploring the existence of a higher being, an issue touched upon on The Crying Light.
The EP closes with two covers. ‘Pressing On’ is an overlooked Bob Dylan song from Saved, part of the songwriters “religious” period, and perfectly fits Antony’s affecting warble. The second is far better known and may make a few eyes roll: John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. However, in the hands of Antony this becomes the most adventurous song on the record, as gentle guitar is undercut with desolate, creaking reverb. It’s easy to draw similarities between the song and Antony’s interest in the natural world, as he sings “I hope someday you’ll join me / and the world will be as one”. Overall it’s another solid release from one of the few original singer-songwriters around. If the quality on display here is anything to go by, Swanlights should be a treat.
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