Antony is a ghost-white giant with a voice of singular majesty -- an instrument of delicacy and rapture in which Nina Simone, Morrissey and Joni Mitchell seem to inhabit the same breath. A harmony-vocal angel on Lou Reed's 2003 tour, Antony stole the encore each night, kissing anguished life into the Velvet Underground sigh "Candy Says." His soft but dogged longing for transformation in that song illuminates the whole of his second album. I Am a Bird Now opens with the full-force yearning of Antony's falsetto fluttering over stern gospel piano in "Hope There's Someone." In "Fistful of Love," his voice cuts through distortion-hell guitar (played by Reed) and roughhouse brass like a glass spear. Even in duets with Rufus Wainwright (wonderfully languid in "What Can I Do?") and Boy George, Antony is the dominant voice of solitude and agonized waiting. "One day I'll grow up and feel the power in me," he sings in "For Today I Am a Boy," a song only partly about the trap of gender. The lesson in this magnificence: That day has come.

DAVID FRICKE

(Posted: Feb 10, 2005)

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