Anohni is back with a new album called My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross – officially credited to Anohni and the Johnsons – which will be out on July 7 through Rough Trade / Secretly Canadian. Commenting on the new album, she says:
“I’ve been thinking a lot about Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. That was a really important touchstone in my mind. Some of these songs respond from the present day to global and environmental concerns first voiced in popular music over 50 years ago.”
That Marvin Gaye influence can certainly be heard in the lead single “It Must Change”, a soulful throwback that completely ditches the cold electronics of her last album, 2016’s Hopelessness, in favour of warm, strolling guitar and washes of strings. It can be partly credited to producer Jimmy Hogarth (Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Tina Turner), and it makes a perfect setting for Anohni’s voice as she pulls us into an emotional struggle that cleverly toes the line between a romantic song and a political one. As she sings of “the way that you talk to me (must change) / the things that you do to me”, in her joyously dextrous voice, it’s easy to think she’s singing to a romantic partner. However, as we’re drawn deeper into Anohni’s troubled mind, the picture becomes broader; “the fire is cleaning the oil from your stones / your god is failing you, giving you hell.” It’s a terrifying message, but Anohni delivers it so sweetly and the instrumental carries it off with such lightness that it’s intoxicating. It feels like standing hand in hand with her somewhere high up with a beautiful view – of the world burning below.