Antony and the Johnsons I Am the Bird

Antony and the Johnsons I Am the Bird
If you’ve never heard of the angelically-voiced Antony before, you might be interested to know that friends and admirers such as Devendra Banhart, Rufus Wainwright, Boy George and Lou Reed all show up here to lend a hand. Not that he needs their help, with the exception of the sorely-missed Boy George, whose torchy voice redeems the otherwise maudlin "You Are My Sister.” On his own, Antony’s vibrato voice is nothing short of captivating — always on the verge of weeping, but instead defiantly soldiering on, refusing to give in to whatever tragedy befalls it. Having moved to New York at the height of the AIDS plague in the early ’90s, one can only imagine what kind of heartache and pain Antony must have witnessed to write and sing a song like "Hope That Someone (Will Take Care of Me When I Die).” The piano ballad "For Today I Am A Boy” is an androgyny anthem, a proud statement of a boy grappling with gender confusion. Antony’s on-stage playfulness comes out on the deceptive "Fistful of Love,” which sounds like the Otis Redding covering "Venus in Furs,” complete with a punchy horn section and Lou Reed himself providing guitar and a spoken intro — all of which is juxtaposed with the lyric "I feel your fist and I know it’s our love/ I feel your whip and I know it’s our love.” Antony is clearly enamoured with the days of Warhol’s Factory scene — look no further than the cover shot of Candy Darling on her deathbed — but he is a majestic and unique voice in his own right, with or without friends in high places. (Secretly Canadian)