Like the myriad of admirers before and after her, Anjani Thomas, who is an active part of Leonard Cohen’s retinue, has tried her interpretive hand at Cohen’s words. There is always a sad element, no matter how small, in all of Cohen’s lyrical works. The magic of those words is that they always seem to touch a part of people who hear them, usually at a spiritual level that can be tracked back to how they feel at the moment, philosophically. That’s why artists can put almost any kind of music to Cohen’s words and come away with something very meaningful.
Anjani began working with Leonard Cohen as early as the Various Positions (1984) album, later joining him in tour support of this magnificent album (Anjani Thomas provided backing vocals for some songs) that contained the timeless songs, “Dance Me to the End of Love,” “Hallelujah,” “Night Comes On,” “If It Be Your Will,” and “The Law.” Anjani recorded with Leonard Cohen on his I’m Your Man (1988), The Future (1992), and Dear Heather (2004).
On her latest album, Blue Alert, she works extensively with Cohen, using fragments and poems from his collection to create a silky, heady, jazz-inflected, collection. Cohen allowed her the use of “first draft” words for “Blue Alert,” which she immediately recorded. After presenting the finished song to Leonard, he realized that there was some magic of Anjani’s own making that resided within the Anjani recording. With Anjani adding words of her own to flesh out the fragments and Leonard Cohen producing the album, a classic is born. The rest of the story is in Blue Alert.
“Blue Alert” is a seductive song of intensity growing by seconds. It is a perfect moment captured as two struggles to avoid the pull of lust as it wraps fingers around them. Without success or failure, “Blue Alert” is an essence. With Anjani’s voice, the female side of the emotions shaped by the words, the song is the absolute moment of heat. “Innermost Heat” sounds so much like a Cohen song making it seems as if Anjani is his perfect counterpart.
The captured tone of “Half the Perfect World,” is transcendent. When a voice can translate a singular moment, a tick of the clock, and breathtakingly pass that on to the listener, you have the essence of transference, an enchantment worthy of the time you’ll spend seriously listening to this album.
Blue Alert is released as a two-disc set that includes a bonus DVD. The DVD contains 2 videos (“The Mist,” and “Thanks for the Dance”) as well as recording and interviews footage.
What Anjani recognizes in Leonard Cohen’s words is his ability to articulate a singular event, an emotion, an observation, a passion….a granular moment of time. Anjani voices those as if they were her own words, a talent that Leonard Cohen recognized in Anjani. Their pairing is a perfect world.