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Album Review

Antony and the Johnsons, 'The Crying Light'

January 19, 2009
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CHAMBER POP
Antony and the Johnsons The Crying Light
Secretly Canadian
ESSENTIAL "Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground"
Antony and the Johnsons perform at Berklee Performance Center on Feb. 22.

You learn a lot from Antony and the Johnsons' album covers. The group's self-titled 2004 debut introduced listeners to mastermind Antony Hegarty as an otherworldy, moon-lit chanteuse (yes, in his case, you can call a man a chanteuse) prone to pomp and grandeur. "I Am a Bird Now," its follow-up, featured a stark, black-and-white image of Andy Warhol muse Candy Darling supposedly on her death bed, a fitting reflection of the album's sense of loss. Kazou Ohno, a 102-year-old pioneer of the Japanese Butoh dance technique, strikes an operatic pose on the cover of "The Crying Light." This deeply introspective album is vast in scope while retaining the intimacy of a concert-hall recital. Of course, Antony has always cut a formidable presence, from his towering physique to the opulence of his singing, but "The Crying Light" presents him in an elemental mindset, delving into childhood memories ("Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground") and his relationship to nature ("Everglade"). An electric guitar turns up on "Aeon," but mostly the Johnsons add subtle orchestral flourishes to a voice that clearly shimmers and soars to its own beat. (Out tomorrow)

JAMES REED

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