Calvi can breathe easy after second album

Anna Calvi
Anna Calvi

Ever since Anna Calvi first started performing her debut album over three years ago, she has earned a reputation as a very intense performer.

You won’t read a review of her albums or live shows that doesn’t feature the words ‘brooding’ or ‘dramatic’, while on stage, she cuts an almost androgynous figure; hair scraped back, often sporting black trousers and a sexless, tailored shirt, almost like a matador, albeit one that wears ruby red lipstick, sings with an opera singer’s range and power, and plays the guitar as if it’s the last time she’ll ever do so.

It’s utterly captivating, watching her perform, and exhausting for her, although don’t expect her to change that when she begins her upcoming tour.

“I don’t get tired from it,” she says, asked if emoting in such a way, night after night drains her.

“I mean, it is tiring, but it’s a replenishing feeling and it feels good to be able to express myself in that way.

“If it does feel draining, it’s more in a fulfilling way, like when you’ve been active or done something positive. It’s not like when you’ve had an argument with someone.

“Good draining not bad draining, basically. Satisfying.”

If she’s intense on stage, she’s not much less formidable when speaking, although her mighty singing voice is contrasted by the gentle and soft speaking voice of someone much younger.

The 33-year-old speaks in quite short sentences, concise and never prone to making conversation for the sake of it.

Calvi’s second album, ‘One Breath’, came out in October last year. Like her Mercury Prize-nominated self-titled debut, released in 2011, ‘One Breath’ is a fiery affair, a whirling, gothic drama that sees her come across as some sort of Telecaster-wielding femme fatale.

Her first album saw obvious comparisons made to PJ Harvey and Jeff Buckley, and while One Breath doesn’t shake them off completely, it did find the London-born singer ploughing her own furrow more and more.

Now she has two albums’ worth of songs to play, Calvi says she’s really looking forward to her new tour and, coming off the back of regional dates in France and America, she and her band are in exceptionally good shape.

“Playing live is my favourite part of everything I do,” she says.

“The performance is just for that moment and then it disappears, so you feel less...” she trails off, unable to describe the emotion.

“As a perfectionist, it’s nice to know whatever you’ve done just disappears.”