Reviews

ANOHNI and The Johnsons “My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross” Album Review

My Back Was a Bridge For You To Cross

ANOHNI

  • Genre: Alternative
  • Date: 07 Jul, 2023
  • Content: Not-explicit
  • Track(s): 10
  • ℗ 2023 Rebis Music under exclusive licence to Rough Trade Records Ltd

For the first time since 2010’s Swanlights, ANOHNI has collaborated with The Johnsons once again for her most recent effort, “My Back Was a Bridge For You To Cross.” The new album by ANOHNI & The Johnsons, is a sheer treat, ideal for late nights and quiet moments of reflection. The album is undeniably gorgeous and showcases ANOHNI as a talented songwriter, despite a few brief moments of complacency.

The composition of “My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross”‘s 10-song tracklist is what gives it so great power. Jimmy Hogarth, Leo Abrahams, Samuel Dixon, Chris Vatalaro, Martin Slattery, and Rob Moose make up the band ANOHNI & the Johnsons, and they write songs about breakdown and collapse.

Album Cover Art

Anohni And The Johnsons &Quot;My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, April 21, 2024

The image of Marsha P. Johnson, the legendary NYC trans activist who notoriously hurled the first brick at Stonewall in 1969 and later co-founded the radical Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaires (S.T.A.R.) group with Sylvia Rivera, graces the cover of My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross. One of several guiding lights on ANOHNI’s most recent album is Johnson.

Tracks and Features

ANOHNI demands we pay attention to the climate issue in the opening track, “It Must Change,” a smooth, soulful number, referencing flames and oil, saying, “Your God is failing you, things must change.” However, emotion becomes important to the framework of the song, with the vocalist subsequently adding, “The truth is that our love/ Will ricochet through eternity.”

Love and compassion remain driving principles in the face of tragedy and environmental disaster. The song alternates between silky, laid-back sounds and bursts of abrasion and discordance. The breezy opening tune is followed by “Go Ahead,” which unlocks with grinding, raw guitars before ANOHNI delivers words like “Go ahead kill your friends/ I can’t stop you,” with a theatrical tone that cannot be listened to passively.

With guitars wailing in the background, the brief tune becomes one of the record’s most vital and unsettling passages. ANOHNI pays tribute to her late friend Lou Reed in “Sliver of Ice,” who died in 2013. ANOHNI emphasizes the importance of feeling yet again by describing the sharp sensation of tasting ice on her tongue, something Reed had informed her about before he died. The song is quiet and slightly melancholy, yet ANOHNI maintains a sense of joy in her vocal delivery.

The album also comes with some brutality, most notably on the centerpiece “Scapegoat.” It’s an honest, heartbreaking look at prejudice and hate crimes against queer people, told from the perspective of the vile, familiar hand sharpening the knife: “You’re just so killable,” she croons. Later in the song, she combines the trans death epidemic with the ever-present issue of gun violence.

On “Rest,” the band experiments with prog-rock from the 1970s as well as melodic, gritty, blues-inspired parts. “Like my guilt waits for reprieve, rest like a stone waits for the sun,” ANOHNI sings in a lyric that wraps around the talon of poetics with the piercing, crowd-commanding force of a gospel song.

“You Be Free,” the album’s closing tune, finds ANOHNI returning to a concept of sisterhood that she’s addressed throughout her career. She analyzes how the Earth has taken the lives of her “mother” and “sisters” and interprets her suffering in this life as a conduit for others to achieve liberation in the hereafter.

Tracklist

NO TITLE ARTIST TIME
1 It Must Change ANOHNI 4:55
2 Go Ahead ANOHNI 1:30
3 Sliver of Ice ANOHNI 3:41
4 Can’t ANOHNI 4:40
5 Scapegoat ANOHNI 5:22
6 It’s My Fault ANOHNI 2:15
7 Rest ANOHNI 5:45
8 There Wasn’t Enough ANOHNI 4:55
9 Why Am I Alive Now? ANOHNI 5:59
10 You Be Free ANOHNI 2:17

Album Theme

The album beautifully depicts subjects like bereavement and environmental catastrophe throughout the course of ten songs. However, ANOHNI claimed that the record’s main focus is feeling in an interview with the New York Times.

In honesty, “My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross” is difficult to listen to. The album is an acheronian depiction of what it means to be a trans woman in America, particularly in a country where her community is so frequently mistreated and tormented by homelessness, violence, addiction, and death in exile.

Production Credits

Jimmy Hogarth produced the album.

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