The Unthanks – Diversions, Vol. 1: The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons: Live From the Union Chapel, London

In the summer of 2005 I had the opportunity to visit Chicago, IL. I was very happy, because it gave me an opportunity to play Sufjan Stevens‘ Here Come the Illinois in the actual state of Illinois. I told you in my bio – I’m really not that cool. It also gave me a chance to go see the cover of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in person. As was my custom when visiting other cities back then, I made a visit to a local music store to browse old records and new releases. I had read a bit about the new record by Antony & the Johnsons called I am a Bird Now and decided to pick it up on that fateful day. Words did not, cannot, and will never describe the beauty of listening to the voice of Antony Hegarty – either you will fall in love (as I did) or you will hate it. As his voice took over the speakers in my rental car, driving along Michigan Avenue, I felt elation, hope, and even a bit of sadness – all the things you want in a perfectly executed song. And that was just midway through opening song “Hope There’s Someone”. I spent that entire trip blasting this album throughout the city of Chicago, fighting to drown out the latest hip-hop and rock releases (I probably looked a bit silly to be honest).  Later albums by Antony & The Johnsons have actually received higher marks by reviewers, but I am a Bird Now is my favorite. Brilliant.

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