Rising English singer-songwriter Anna Calvi follows critically acclaimed live performances and her two albums with an upcoming covers EP, Strange Weather.
It is a grim rendition that begins with Byrne’s ageless voice blending seamlessly with spooky, desolate piano chords. His falsetto and vibrato may ring as clear as a bell, but also carries the weariness of age as he enunciates each word like a slow-moving cloud. This is incredibly well suited to the track’s morose tone, and sets the context for Calvi’s entrance.
Whilst Byrne sustains his notes to the end of each line, the young protege’s vocals sound even more laboured and slightly drunken (‘drunken eye-eyeesss’, ‘sil-ver-er-er’, ‘wea-ther-er’). The occasional cymbal tap provides a steady, familar beat for the piano and vocals, but there is still an overriding sense of confusion thanks to Calvi’s ‘er-er-er’ ad-libs and messy guitar during the bridge.
The end showcases Calvi’s chilling vocal performance of a woman who can no longer carry on. The penultimate ‘wake up slowly’ chorus has Byrne and Calvi switching roles. Calvi sings each line as Byrne calls out to her from a distance. The two performers eventually sync up and harmonise, before Calvi fades into the darkness and Byrne’s vocals take over.
Calvi exits the song in anguish and defeat, with screeching guitars recalling Radiohead’s Karma Police and a final, breathy vocal as she slips away. Byrne mourns his loss and ends the song the way he began (‘I’ve loved before, I’ll love again, I know that yours was true’).
This emotionally intense cover of Strange Weather makes uncomfortable listening no matter the time of day. Nevertheless, the union between Byrne and Calvi is an art-worthy triumph as it provokes observers out of their comfort zone. This atmospheric single is certainly the ideal soundtrack for a David Lynch movie, or least a solitary stroll in the night.