You could do worse than follow the 1951 Wayne Shanklin song “Jezebel” as a guiding aesthetic for launching a recording career. A hit for Frankie Laine (1951), Edith Piaf (1951), and, remarkably, Herman’s Hermits (1966), “Jezebel” is built around a flamenco figure that adapts itself well to pop drama and, as Anna Calvi demonstrated on her first single, shows a sympathy to the reverb-y guitar dynamics and thundering tom-driven drumming favored by surf guitarists and Italian directors of Spanish-set westerns.
Taking rough cues from Piaf’s French version of the song, Calvi here adds a visually arresting, emotional core lacking in many of “Jezebel’s” versions, setting the table for the feast of her self-titled debut (2011), a record ripe with passion and shadow, with unified sonic and narrative themes that you might call cafe goth. Siouxsie and the Banshees comparisons certainly apply, but there’s an Americana bent to it, too, inhabiting the same territory Chris Isaak mines to such great effect, or even the darker work of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood in the 1960s.
The video for “Jezebel” is a live performance by Calvi and her band, Daniel Maielen-Wood and Mally Harpez. It is a power trio upended, confounded, confirmed by Harpez’s harmonium, transporting the song to the bars of Sevilla, approaching midnight, as the walls jump to the shadows of a guitarist and her dancers….
soundstreamsunday presents one song or live set by an artist each week, and in theory wants to be an infinite linear mix tape where the songs relate and progress as a whole. For the complete playlist, go here: soundstreamsunday archive and playlist, or check related articles by clicking on”soundstreamsunday” in the tags section.
One thought on “soundstreamsunday #95: “Jezebel” by Anna Calvi”
Thanks for this, Craig! She is a rather mesmerizing artist. I reviewed her album “One Breath” a few years ago for Progarchy.com. I thought her most recent album, “One Breath”, was a half-step down or sideways, but still quite good and full of wonderful moments.