Described as shy and unassuming offstage, Anna Calvi demands attention when she has a guitar in her hands. She has the tendency to look her audience directly in the eyes when she performs. It's this tiptoeing of the line between seductive and unsettling that has helped her gain a dedicated following with the release of her 2011 Mercury Prize-nominated debut.
Calvi spent two and a half years recording her eponymous album, which draws influence from singer Edith Piaf and film directors Wong Kar-wai and David Lynch. There is certainly a haunting quality hanging over the waves of her voice and the way her guitar pierces the still air, especially on "Rider to the Sea/No More Words." It's not surprising that Calvi has garnered comparisons to artists as diverse as PJ Harvey and Ravel.
"I think it's important to leave some mystery, in order to really lose yourself in a song," she says. "I think you need to have that space to be taken."
Calvi describes the experience of recording on vintage equipment at Black Box Studios in France on today's World Cafe.