Anjani: I Came To Love
I Came To Love is the new album by Hawaiian-born singer Anjani Thomas who has strong family connections with Okinawa. Several years ago she made the album Okinawa Time which featured some of her own re-written versions of Okinawan songs by Rinken Teruya. Since that time she has found fame for her collaborations with Leonard Cohen and her last solo album Blue Alert was entirely co-written with Cohen and produced by him.
It’s already eight years since the excellent Blue Alert and a lot has happened since then, though Anjani’s fans must have begun to wonder whether this long promised new album was ever going to materialise. Well, the extended wait has been worth it and I Came To Love stands up very well alongside its predecessor. The album includes three songs co-written with Cohen (one of these an adaptation of an early poem). The other seven compositions are entirely the work of Anjani who plays piano and keyboards with a select band of handpicked musicians including country music giant Larry Campbell, renowned flamenco guitarist Pavlo, and co-producer Jerry Marotta on bass and percussion.
Anjani has obviously absorbed much of the songwriting and recording process from Cohen but at the same time she seems to have grasped a new freedom in following a somewhat different path of her own here and the results are more varied and more interesting than ever. ‘Standing on the Stairs’ begins the album in almost identical fashion to Blue Alert with its minimalist but sophisticated jazzy arrangement complementing her clear and precisely enunciated vocals. But just when we think we know exactly where this is going we get the countrified ‘Love in Between’ and then the folk-bluesy ‘Holy Ground’.
The title track which is the centrepiece of the album expertly contrasts light and shade and almost rocks out in parts as does the following ‘The Goal’. One of the most compelling songs is ‘Clean Slate’ which seems to sum up a theme of rebirth and regeneration which runs through much of an album concerned with love and reflections on life’s twists and turns. In a twist of her own, ‘Love Be a River’ is positively European with its guitar, bouzouki and accordion rising and falling along with the vocal.
I Came To Love was recorded in a variety of locations over a period of six years. It has no obvious standout tracks. Instead the album hangs together as a single statement and the initial impressions get better with every listen.