Antony and the Johnsons

Thank You for Your Love

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Issued as a precursor to Antony and the Johnsons' Swanlights, Thank You for Your Love contains five tracks -- the title cut is taken from the album; "My Lord, My Love," was issued as a bonus on The Crying Light; and there are a pair of surprising covers. The title is the thematic track the EP hinges on. Antony Hegarty's longing has always been at the heart of his arresting, courageous, yet vulnerable voice. On this track, however, in a relaxed, easy, flowing manner, backed by a host of downtown NY jazz musicians, Hegarty makes a direct declaration of gratitude for the kind of love that provides rescue. The arrangments are retro, touching on soul, but Hegarty's singing changes its shape. He allows his voice to float and hover above his backing. Surprisingly, it is free of the pain we associate with his songs. This is followed by a song unique to this release, "You Are the Treasure," which dovetails perfectly: the slight, lilting ballad where he accompanies himself on piano. In addition to the gratitude ecxpressed previously, Hegarty makes a simple, yet profound declaration of love. The two covers are interesting choices. "Pressing On" was written by Bob Dylan as a gospel song that appeared on Saved, from his evangelical period. In Hegarty's treatment, it becomes an impressionisitic jazzy folk ballad featuring sparse guitar work from Kevin Barker, beautiful and illustrative vibes by Stefon Harris, and a rhythmic pulse provided by Greg Cohen's upright bass. Hegarty is assertive while allowing the subtleties in his voice to shine, illuminating the lyric in a new way. The final track is John Lennon's "Imagine." It's understandable to cringe before hearing it: the song has been played to death by radio and tortured further by the interpretations of lesser artists. Not so here. With a different cadence, sung in the first person, backed by William Basinski's tape loops and Barker's acoustic guitar, Hegarty shifts the wish in Lennon's tome, creating a rumination on a vision encountered in a daydream. His falsetto moves the song from its trappings in the cultural imagination and liberates it as a respectful yet radical reinterpetation. Taken as a whole, as slight, whispy and utterly restrained as this set is, it offers an entirely different aural presentation of Hegarty.

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