EDITOR’S NOTE: As album releases slow down in December, we like to catch our breath and write about albums that came out earlier in the year that we didn’t get a chance to review but we think are worthy of your attention. Giver Taker was released in September.
It’s so beautiful to witness somebody be their most authentic self: a golden light emits from them, covering everybody they meet, that says, “It’s okay to be you.” On his debut record Giver Taker, that light pours out of the Boston-based songmaker Anjimile Chithambo.
As Giver Taker unfolds, so do the epiphanies. Anjimile, who records and performs under the single name, wrote a lot of the record while getting sober and coming to terms with his identity as a nonbinary trans person. Braided into Anjimile’s lyrics, in turn, is courage and clarity, and it makes even the album’s quieter moments feel loud. On “Maker,” a pop-rock song that moves as agilely as an expert craftsperson does working on their medium, Anjimile arrives at a realization: “I’m not just a boy, I’m a man. I’m not just a man, I’m a god. I’m not just a god, I’m a maker.” On “Ndimakukonda,” a similar devotional love emerges when he sings: “Our future is uncertain, that will always be. I promise to stay with you if you’ll stay with me.”
The album’s instrumentation feels as enlivening and revelatory as Anjimile’s lyrics. The closing track “To Meet You There” begins with quiet scratches of a picked acoustic guitar, but as Anjimile finds his footing, the instrumentations shifts, first to a groovy, muted ’80s pop interlude and then to a folk-rock crescendo. The layered voices of “In Your Eyes” act like a network of friends and family offering love and support, and “1978” blooms steadily — just like Anjimile — into a folk-rock mix that will make you want to dust off your collection of early-aughts indie-folk CDs. And once again, Anjimile comes to realization, and you bask in its glorious glow: “I’m alive, I am not so gone as I thought. Oh God, I am loved.”