Well this is a cracker and no mistake. An album of urban torch songs and witty observations, Genderful somehow feels completely universal despite having a very recognisable New York flavour to it.
The opener, Tomorrow Will Be, is a quiet but wonderfully positive wish list of all the nice things in that Annie wants in our lives. Benefitting also from a marvellously sympathetic, delicately spiralling arrangement by Paul Wallfisch, Tomorrow Will Be is possibly one of the best “quiet”, slow burner openers since Edwyn Collins’ Coffee Table Song. And having the national anthem written by James Brown would indeed have been a wonderful thing.
Actually this is one of those marvellous albums that are perfect from start to finish, even if it’s not your normal sonic cup of tea. The God Song for instance never comes over as proselytising, smug or gauche. It’s a nice and positive list of Annie’s reasons to be grateful to her God. She’s good at listing things. There are other tracks where the brilliance of the arrangement really makes the song, the chic sweep of strings that drives the emotion in Suitcase Full of Secrets or the great bubbling bass line (just this side of ridiculously muso) in Billy Martin Requiem, which sometimes adds a subtle humour to Annie’s breathlessly vaudeville tale. And check out the marvellous juxtaposition of Gainsbourg-style bass & organ on the tipsy Carried Away.
There are plenty of piano led reminiscences, at times displaying an alcohol-soaked bravado or at others a morose admission of failures and regret. Tracks like Miss Annie Regrets or the absolutely marvellous Because You’re Gone Song are like stripped down Brel numbers, in both structure and attack. Talking of misery guts, Annie’s songs really do remind me of Lou Reed’s more introspective (or camp) moments on New York or Street Hassle: it shouldn’t be a surprise really, as the LP’s inherent sarcasm sometimes really drives the tracks; as on the slightly ragtime rant of Cutesy Bootsies or the quiet In The Bar Womb.
It’s a marvellous album and everyone should hear it.