There’s (perhaps literally) an endless stream of great music out there — albums to dance and cry and rage and run and mindlessly stare out the window of a boring commute to. But occasionally, an album comes along that feels like it's inviting you, with urgency, to lose yourself tracking the contours of its own unique living, breathing ecosystem. Anjimile’s debut, Giver Taker, is one such rare album that’s filled beyond the point of comprehension with capturing songwriting both ebullient and weighty, and instrumentation that’s sparse where it needs to be and doubles down on abundance where it counts.
Evidence of the album’s capacity for immediate impact can be found in the buzz generated around Giver Taker before it even made its way out into the world. Anjimile has been covered by outlets big and small from Paste to Bandcamp Daily to Rolling Stone, and has been named artist to watch by NPR. It’s easy to see why; while I typically anxiously await the release of album advances I adore so the people in my life (and the world at large) can listen, I found it viscerally difficult not to share the beauty and solace Giver Taker offered me and became giddy at the idea of this album hitting masses of ears.
Giver Taker is Anjimile’s “official” debut on indie label Father/Daughter, though the Boston-based 27-year-old has been self-producing and releasing music for a minute. They wrote much of the album while working to understand their identity as a trans, nonbinary person, and on their journey through recovery from alcoholism.
“I’d just woken up, after being treated for alcohol poisoning for the third or fourth time that year, and thought, this actually fucking sucks,” they told Vinyl Me, Please in an interview earlier this month. “I wasn’t ready to stop until I was ready to stop. Then, thankfully, I hit rock bottom.”
Reflective of this state of healing, Anjimile entangles heaviness and light, good and bad, hope and regret — each often indistinguishable from one another and all in constant conversation throughout the album. “I was a little cross; I was a little cold; I was a little lost. Dead to me truth be told,” Anjimile, who has a choral background, sings softly, yet powerfully over sparse finger-picking at the beginning of swelling, epic ballad “1978” about their grandmother, who died before they were born. The chorus dissipates in a warm hum of light: “In the night, it's a miracle to be held by you.”
While the songs draw you in with their specificity, detail, and sometimes, their striking abstraction, Anjimile’s music, above all, resonates. Moving gently, like the breath of a sleeping loved one or the mesmerizing way masses of leaves blow in the wind, Giver Taker walks you through the expanse of pain and beauty — and reminds you that, if you’re lucky, you can share it all.