[15 December 2009]
It took Antony Hegarty four years to follow the breakthrough success of I Am a Bird Now with The Crying Light, but in terms of the internal thematic landscape of the songs, it feels light years ahead of its predecessor. Hegarty largely abandons issues of gender ambiguity here for a bruising, heartfelt examination of man and his relationship to nature, infused with a sense of deep spirituality and longing. Uncertainties be damned: his artistic leap pays off boundlessly. Keeping his musings eloquently grounded in supple arrangements that utilize woodwinds, strings, and his ever-prescient piano, these songs soar in their introspective wanderlust, guiding us with genuine awe into each question Antony spiels forth in his disarming, wounded voice. Alternating between languid yet beautiful ballads and swirling piano-pop shuffles, Hegarty keeps our interest as much for the subtle shades he adds to his fully-realized musical vision as his philosophical ruminations. As an artist, he may forever cloud himself in an aura of enigma, playfully sprouting double entendres with his clever songwriting and arrangements; yet with each project, he reveals multi-dimensional facets that are as intriguing as they are dazzling. Those willing to follow him ever-further down his own eccentric paths are assured to be as comforted and rewarded by what they find as they are challenged by what they hear.