Album Review

ANOHNI And The Johnsons - My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross

Expect to cry - then get fired up.

ANOHNI And The Johnsons - My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross

ANOHNI’s vocal has always had the ability to resemble a tearful cry, to cut through and pull at even the coldest of heartstrings, regardless of her message - which, it should be said, is more often than not an important one. But here, on her first record back with ‘The Johnsons’ moniker for over a decade, it’s the sonically softer side that hits harder, somehow. That a key reference for ‘My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross’ is Marvin Gaye’s 1971 ‘What’s Going On’ may surprise some of her more arty, obtuse followers - but mere seconds into opener ‘It Must Change’ and it’s clear what ANOHNI, and producer Jimmy Hogarth were after. Her voice less an instrument here than vessel, atop a smooth soul backing her repetition of the song’s title intensifies, oscillating between mantra and plea. Similarly, as ‘Can’t’ reaches its gospel-adjacent crescendo, one hears the influence of the blue-eyed soul of childhood heroes Boy George and Alison Moyet. Sonically, it’s an easy listen for an artist who’s often embraced the abrasive: only ‘Go Ahead’ flirts with the sonically abstract as it combines an almost-punk guitar line with almost-pretty vocals. But these aural niceties - see the croon-like backing of ‘Sliver of Ice’ or warm closer ‘You Be Free’ - only allow for a more direct gut punch. As she repeats the line “You’re my scapegoat / It’s not personal” on ‘Scapegoat’, on an album that features a photo of LGBTQ+ rights activist Marsha P. Johnson on its sleeve (from whom ANOHNI took the project’s name way back when) and with that uncanny ability of hers to convey such emotion with her voice - that it is, in fact, personal is crystal clear. Expect to cry - then get fired up.

Tags: ANOHNI, Reviews, Album Reviews

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