Anna keeps up the intensity

Anna Calvi performing at the European Border Breakers Awards. Photo: PA/PA Photos
Anna Calvi performing at the European Border Breakers Awards. Photo: PA/PA Photos

Ever since Anna Calvi first started performing songs from her debut album over three years ago, she’s earned a reputation as a very intense singer and guitar player.

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 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.Calvi says she enjoyed writing her way out of despair, and believes it’s quite normal for creative people like her to feel unstable.

“I definitely have that, but I embrace it. It’s not something I would want to change. I have real highs and lows in my life and it comes across in my music,” she added.