Acclaimed Albums – I Am A Bird Now by Antony & The Johnsons

List item: Listen to the 50 greatest albums
Progress: 93/250Title: I Am A Bird Now
Artist: Antony & The Johnsons
Year: 2005
Position: #249

I know that this is an album that is probably going to fall out of the 250 list when it is next updated. I also know that there are a number of other albums on this list that I could write up that will not be leaving on the next update. I just… don’t know, I guess I feel a bit compelled to do this album at the moment. Longer nights and cooler evenings suit this more than a summer’s day.

How can you describe Antony Hegarty’s voice? I think the best word I have found to describe her voice is haunting. The album is a showcase for just how many ways her voice can break your heart. It is one of those voices that I don’t think can be compared to another too easily – as such it took me a while to actually come around to like it.

In fact, I remember when I first realised that I enjoyed Antony’s voice, during Bjork’s Volta Tour when they performed ‘Dull Flame of Desire’ and ‘My Juvenile’ together. Since then, and thanks to the release of The Crying Light, I have really come to appreciate the voice.

I think I agree with most people when I say that ‘Hope There’s Someone’ is the best song on the album. The sheer relatable ideas of hoping that there is someone who will be there when we are dying and the fear that accompanies it. In pretty much all ways you can cut it, this is the best song.

The thing is, the song that makes me want I Am A Bird Now to stay on the album is ‘For Today I Am A Boy’. The whole album takes on the idea of transformation and vulnerability. It is done through the lens of being, like Antony, a member of the transgender community. In it Antony croons that ‘One day [he’ll] grow up and be a beautiful woman’ but there is the acknowledgement that at this time he is a child and a boy.  It’s a very powerful idea.

In fact, the whole album is powerful. It is the product of someone growing up as the wrong gender and then, later in life, having the freedom to be who you know you always were. It is an important album because, there are not many successful transgender singers out there, and I Am A Bird Now pretty much stands alone. It’ll probably fall out of the Top 250 in a few months, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the statistics will keep it in somehow.

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