Anjani: Blue Alert

Dan MacIntosh

Anjani is Leonard Cohen, had he been born a lovely woman with a beautiful singing voice, rather than as a croaky man.


Blue Alert

Label: Sony
US Release Date: 2006-05-19
UK Release Date: 2006-05-23

Anjani is Leonard Cohen, had he been born a lovely woman with a beautiful singing voice, rather than as a croaky man. But this comparison is not made just because Blue Alert is filled with desperate torch songs. Believe me, it contains enough to light up a metropolis. Mr. Cohen’s name is central, however, because he co-wrote and helped produce the album, so his immediately recognizable fingerprints are all over it. Furthermore, listening to this CD may make you exclaim, “Wow, they sure don’t make albums like that anymore.” Anjani is a modern day jazz singer, not merely a jazzy singer in the mold of Norah Jones. In other words, you can just imagine her voice floating through the air in a piano bar as you’re drowning your sorrows there.

This fine CD opens with the title cut, which spells out this warning: You’re about to get your heart broke, fella. “You know how nights like this begin / The kind of knot your heart gets in / Any way you turn is going to hurt.” Even though it’s a female voice putting out this emotional emergency broadcast, it’s obviously words from Cohen’s pen. Clearly, there’s a woman with knife in hand, standing over a male bleeding heart. “She comes so close / You feel her then / She tells you No and No again,” the song also reiterates. “Half The Perfect World” is another song sung directly from a man to a woman, which is an unusual perspective that starts to sound strange after a while on this female singer/songwriter’s album. Cohen’s mark is also recognized in the way lyrics sometimes mix and match the romantic with the spiritual, as though they were inseparable from each other. During the San Francisco memories expressed via "The Golden Gate", Anjani sings: “For several seconds our sins are forgiven / Mine against you, yours against me”.

Much of this work is piano lounge quiet, with Anjani deliberately delivering every vocal note. But there is just enough variety to keep it from veering too close to lounge lizard parody territory. “Thanks For the Dance” distinguishes itself as being a lovely waltz; Anjani even counts out its 3/4 time at one point in the song. Elsewhere, “Innermost Door” is bluesy. “Never Got to Love You” also touches on the blues, while mixing in a little gospel. It also features slide guitar. “Nightingale” is quiet and sweet, like a lullaby. Anjani doesn’t need a whole lot of accompaniment, outside of her tasteful piano. “Half the Perfect World” includes a guitar part, whereas “Blue Alert” sports a sax solo. Anjani switches to electric piano for “No One After You”, on which she also scats a bit. But for the most part, this CD is Anjani, her voice, and her trusty piano.

Listening to Anjani’s smoky voice, applied to Cohen’s self-deprecating lyrics, makes me wonder what someone like Sinatra might have done with similar lyrics. Or what about Sarah Vaughn? Anjani has a little of that lower register thing going for her, but Vaughn was a beautiful freak of nature. Vaughn and Cohen might have been something truly special together. Such comparisons are intriguing. But they’re also as fruitless as a sports fan trying to imagine Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson playing together in the same backcourt. Sure, such a combination would be Lakers show time IMAXed. But it could never happen, so why waste the imagination? But this is Anjani’s spotlight, anyhow. She’s shadowed in blue light and singing the sort of piano bar music that, in comparison, makes guys like Billy Joel sound like hacks. Joel may have called himself the piano man, but Anjani’s the complete package.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.