Following up her much-lauded and Mercury Prize nominated debut, the UK's current premier art-rock export releases One Breath
, another collection of tense and intricate songs centered around Calvi's own remarkable guitar work. Sounding something like a cross between Julia Holter's recent output (albeit less jazzy), the Dirty Three, and more rock-oriented 20th century polyrhythmic minimalists like Branca & Chatham, Calvi churns out a record that is distinctly "pop-rock" in its directionality (there's little reason why this shouldn't appeal to adventurous fans of Arcade Fire or St. Vincent) while being almost utterly boundless in its scope and ambition. Like Holter, Calvi is an instrumental and compositional prodigy, adapting methodologies of classical music and chamber-jazz to produce New Rock that still sounds like New Rock, distinguished by its compositional ambition and instrumental virtuosity. That is to say, compostional ambition, here, does not mean a power ballad with a few key changes, and instrumental virtuosity does not mean finger-tapping or sweep-picking. Not to say that these methods are in any way less dignified, they're simply not what Calvi's doing. What Calvi IS doing is beginning to carve out a niche for her experiments to come. Despite just how good it is, I do not believe that One Breath
will be Calvi's best or even second best record. The ambition latent in all of her music is astounding and watching it unfold is the kind of narrative music fans dream of, deserve, and so rarely get.