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"Anjani - Blue Alert (Columbia Records)"

by Chuck Graham

Tucson Citizen

June 15, 2006
Setting the romantically mystical poems of Leonard Cohen to understated melody is the soulfully cool singer Anjani of Hawaii. It was 1985 when she first sang backup for Cohen, on Various Positions. She continued singing on his albums, gaining his confidence. Then last year she gave a smoky jazz treatment that was 90 percent sultry whisper and 10 percent song to a Cohen poem that became Blue Alert.

What started out as a demo tape became this album, as haunting as it is enchanting, with such poignant tributes to bad timing as "I had so much to tell you / But now it's closing time." Think of this album as the antidote to hip-hop. Or maybe rap with rapport for sophisticated minds who instantly connect with such lines as "Thought I knew the facts of life / But now I know the score."

Anjani's voice is deep, mature, willing to bend but determined not to break. Accompanying herself on piano, riding incredibly slow beats, she projects the inner emotion of Cohen's poems that are sensed more than understood. This is an album you could play over and over for a couple of days, still finding new meaning in the phrases and imagery. Cohen gave Anjani a free hand to rummage through his notebooks of lines jotted at random over the years, moments of inspiration waiting to be fleshed out with thought. She found the phrases and the two artists turned them into this collection of 10 thoughtful tracks sustained on the twin lines of hope and desperation.

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