ANJIMILE – ” Giver Taker “

Posted: September 14, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but ordinarily, artists who draw too hard from one source let down their own muse, and short-change the listener too. Not so Boston-based, Texas-raised Anjimile, whose debut album introduces a fully formed, confident voice – one that sounds slightly familiar.

Non-binary, trans and of Malawian heritage, this intense indie singer-songwriter identifies foremost as a Sufjan Stevens fan. Their hypnotic orchestral folk songs “Come Howling After” an unfathomable god. Like Stevens, Anjimile’s vocals can whisper, swoop and trill lines like “It’s a miracle to behold, it’s a miracle to be held in your arms”.

But derivation is not the whole story here. Tracks like “Maker” or “Ndimakukonda” boast compelling African instrumentation and cadences, putting significant stylistic space between Anjimile and Stevens. Throughout, the production – also by relative unknowns – is pin-sharp and generous. On debut album Giver Taker, released earlier this month, Anjimile charts their recovery and rebirth from both a bad relationship and addiction. “In Your Eyes” zooms the focus out a little, with the non-binary artist asking “Was my body denied?” over a soothing bed of acoustic guitars and lilting melodies.

Although the alternative take on masculinity provided by Moses Sumney might be another valid comparison, these nine songs chart Anjimile’s own self-development and recovery, both from a relationship (Baby No More, Not Another Word) and addiction; this is no one’s story but theirs.

Writing a song about a fading romance is never easy. Writing a song about a fading romance where you bear the brunt of the blame is even harder. Writing a song about a fading romance where you bear the brunt of the blame, but the song still simmers with the kind of alluring energy that makes it feel like it’s not a song about a fading romance at all feels practically impossible — but that’s exactly what Anjimile does on “Baby No More.” Anjimile first released an acoustic version of the song on his 2019 Maker Mixtape, but this new take streamlines the nimble pluck of its lead-guitar riff and buoys it with the pure dance-floor groove of shuffling drums, an elastic bass line, and some sublimely tasteful keyboard plunks. Anjimile balances the song’s bubbling energy and the suave tinge in his voice with lyrics that boast a brutally frank edge: “Am I dead? Must be dead/Am I sick in my head?/Am I wrong? Must be wrong/Best get gone/I can’t be your baby no more.”

The new track will appear on the Boston-based singer-songwriter’s upcoming album, Giver Taker, out September 18th via Father/Daughter Records. In a statement, he explained that he wrote the song a few months before getting sober, when the relationship he was in was suffering because he was no longer taking care of himself: “I quite literally felt like I was losing my mind, vis-à-vis alcoholism,” Anjimile said.

“Active alcoholism and committed romantic relationships generally do not mix well, and ‘Baby No More’ is more or less what happens when you’re not a good boyfriend,” Anjimile said. “Although it’s got a very groovy and relatively lighthearted musical vibe, some of the lyrics are quite dark.”

“Baby No More” is the second offering from Giver Taker, following, “Maker,” which was released in July. The album marks Anjimile’s label debut, though it does follow a string of independent releases he’s shared over the past few years.

Giver Taker is released on 18th September

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