Anna Calvi, ‘One Breath’

It’s hard to say what is more ferocious on Anna Calvi’s new album: her voice, her guitar, or the interplay between the two of them. Together they launch a formidable assault on “One Breath,” the jagged sophomore release by this English singer-songwriter. Calvi is fond of loud, abrasive riffs that suddenly pull back to show the bones of a song, just the sound of her panoramic voice wrapped around her serpentine electric guitar. That dynamic gets under the skin on “Suddenly,” a jangly rocker that cracks wide open with a cascading chorus. Calvi has been compared to PJ Harvey — and indeed there are some very PJ-like moments here (“Love of My Life”) — but Calvi might be closer in spirit to St. Vincent. Like Annie Clark, Calvi is forever shifting the foundation of her songs. She pierces the prettiness of “Piece by Piece” with a cacophony of noise: swirling strings and a squall of distorted guitar. One mood isn’t enough, and Calvi raises an interesting question: Just how filthy but beautiful can the music be? Very, it turns out. (Out Tuesday)


ESSENTIAL “Piece by Piece”