Anohni & The Johnsons

My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross

Rough Trade • 2023

Following her acclaimed solo début »Hopelessness«, released in 2016 under her new name ANOHNI, the singer, artist and trans activist is making a surprisingly soulful comeback with her band ANOHNI & the Johnsons. »My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross« is her first album since the group split in 2012 and features an all-star line-up of new members: Jimmy Hogarth, songwriter for Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Sia, and Leo Abrahams, collaborator with Brian Eno, Imogen Heap, Regina Spektor, are on board, sailing in the wake of Marvin Gaye’s »What’s Going On«, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, towards a present that is sung about as the most terrible of all times (»Why Am I Alive Now?«).  

Far from being resigned, ANOHNI’s voice and lyrics are comforting simply because they are angry, defiant and brittle. The ten songs sound as if they were recorded live and develop their appeal not so much through melody and chord progression, but through an almost anachronistic, incredibly wide dynamic that also sounds great. A swinging, organic sound emerges from the restrained arrangements, the lushness of earlier soul productions is respectfully recalled with the discreet use of strings and backing vocals. The band sets the scene for ANOHNI’s voice, which clearly takes centre stage on the album. The record is slow to realise its potential, perhaps for the first time on »Scapegoat«, but explodes on »Rest«, a veritable blues-rock ballad. A slow burner.