antony-crying_light-album_artAntony’s back with his Johnsons after his torrid affair with Hercules which produced 2008’s bastard-disco smash Blind. No one could blame you for sleeping through that summer, but this track was inescapable. An inveterate collaborator, it has neatly raised his profile for the release of his third full-length studio album as solo writer and performer.

His 2005 album I Am a Bird divided critics, especially when it snared the UK’s most critically credible music award, the Mercury Music Prize with calls of foul play because Antony “wasn’t really a Brit” (having only lived the first few years of his life in the UK). It may also have had to do with his vocal and pretentious supporters like Lou Reid, causing some to doubt the authenticity of the album’s emotions. But ultimately it was about that voice: the affected, fluty timbre that either brought a lump to your throat or a mouth full of…well!

The Crying Light leads with a much more orchestral sound than I Am a Bird, although in most songs Antony’s piano playing is similarly prominent. This refinement may also account for a certain loss of quirkiness that set its predecessor apart from so much other piano-centric material. Gossamer-light orchestral touches are everywhere from expressive, weaving string lines to solos for clarinets, oboe and flute. The skilled players who make up the Johnsons effortlessly achieve an effect that’s light and transparent. This powdery and occasionally sickly quality is put aside on, Aeon, the album’s stand-out track when the gloves come off and the blues go on and Antony convincingly wails, Hold that man I love so much. For those who don’t love him, the air steward will be round shortly with a paper bag. But for those who do, The Crying Light will bind you its web and delight.

European tour dates in March at www.feverray.com

‘Kiss My Name’, one of the singles from The Crying Light