After winning the Mercury Prize (which caused a little bit of controversy), the success of I Am a Bird Now, the second release from Antony and the Johnsons, has slowly but surely nudged the former experimental theater dude into the American mainstream. Throughout the rest of the world he's already adored as a superstar spectacle: the master of wailing ballads who speaks for outsiders with a beautiful and strange voice.
He's part Scott Walker and David Ackles, with a bit of mellow gospel, and a glittery splash of Nina Simone at her most lip quivering–and no one in the last decade can nail a melodramatic melancholy duet quite like Antony can. See my favorite song on the album, “You Are My Sister” which he sings with, who knew? Boy George! Rufus Wainwright, Devendra Banhart and major fan Lou Reed also make guest appearances.
It's an eccentric album and one that works best when you're in the right mood; though hopefully, your mood doesn't have to be quite as blue as most of the song's are. Even the most up-tempo of them, the energetic Lou Reed collaboration Fistful of Love, is a heartbreaking ode to a woman who has accepted domestic violence:
I accept and I collect upon by body
The memories of your devotion
And I feel your fists
And I know it's out of love.