Giver Taker is the debut LP from the Boston-based singer and songwriter Anjimile. The album was composed primarily during a period where he was seeking treatment for drug and alcohol abuse while also coming to terms with his transness, and the title really clues you into the content of the release. This is an album that grapples with the ebb and flow of life. The way that you are given such miraculous gifts in life, and how easily they are so easily taken away- by time, by malice, or by neglect. We are each the giver and the taker, we give more than we can bear, and we take more than what we are owed. Or so it feels at times. The reality that the album speaks to elucidates the fact that our spiritual and emotional reserves are always overdraft and that almost no amount of compensation can bring our accounts to the point where they balance out- a cycle of debt, and indebtedness. Maybe someday there will be a jubilee. But that day is not today, and probably won’t be tomorrow either.
Anjimile was a former choir singer, something that is subtly betrayed by the soulful, plangent tone he envelops his vocal melodies in (especially on “To Meet You There”). It’s clear that he has more range than he demonstrates on Giver Taker, but in limiting his performances, he manages to evoke a reflective quality that might be shattered by a more scale-spanning recital. In this way, I think a comparison to the melancholy avant-pop of Circuit des Yeux’s Haley Fohr is appropriate. They both have a restrained, throaty delivery, a near whisper, that ties a riddle around each breath.
Like most singer and songwriters, Anjimile prefers the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar and light, unobtrusive percussion to accompany their lyrics and voice. The instrumentation on Giver Taker is composed in an understated way, relying primarily on dry, fluttery and folky chords that rise and fall like a sigh, leading to rather instructive comparisons to Sufjan Stevens. The arpeggiated chords, flowing flute respires, and claps of electronic beats on “Your Tree” set Giver Taker outside of the usually indie-folk the lane of your average Bon Iver clone, giving his sound a unique and fiercely independent quality. For instance, the breathy, swivel and saunter of “Baby No More” adds some lovely elements of neo-soul and R’nB that are smartly ambitious and judiciously applied, while the skipping splash of “Maker” exhibits further post-punk influences such as the Talking Heads, with its weaving melodies and crisp and breakable polyrhythms.
Let yourself get a little lost in Anjimile’s world today, and stream the entirety of Giver Taker a listen below via Bandcamp: