Anjulie, opening for Raphael Saadiq on Monday at Showbox at the Market in Seattle, has a self-titled debut album with soul-baring lyrics against a delightful mélange of pop-braced genres.
It’s the stuff of every musician’s fantasy: You make it big and return home triumphant to a parade and a renaming of some building or day in your honor.
Well, you hope.
“I went back to my hometown, hung out with my best friend from middle school, and we drove to the most suburban Starbucks we could find and bought [my] record,” 26-year-old singer Anjulie said. Nobody blinked. “I was like, ‘It’s me,’ and they’re like, ‘OK.’ “
She laughs with the recognition of someone very much aware of the slow climb of the music industry. She may have an MTV Video Music Award nomination, a song on the new “Fame” soundtrack and a distribution deal with Starbucks’ Hear Music label, but she is still the tour opener. More specifically, she’s opening for R&B singer/producer Raphael Saadiq, kicking off their tour at the Showbox at the Market Monday.
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But check back at that Toronto-area Starbucks in the near future, and those counter girls might just be singing along with Anjulie’s first single “Boom,” a swinging, brassy Nancy Sinatra throwback with a hook so tasty you’ll lick your fingers (its video is the one that got Anjulie her VMA nod).
With soul-baring lyrics pitted against a delightful mélange of pop-braced genres, Anjulie’s self-titled debut shows a lot of promise, maturity and loads of fun.
Her breathy croon puts her in the same camp as Lily Allen or Nelly Furtado, with a touch of Amy Winehouse swagger. But she’s just as comfortable with retro-soul as she is a sugar-sweet piano ballad or a beat-laden pop hit.
Stew-potting genres seems like something every artist is doing nowadays. But Anjulie’s many influences are ingrained.
Though she grew up in Canada, Anjulie’s (her full name is Anjulie Persaud) parents are from Guyana, and her grandparents emigrated from India. Her childhood was spent honing her songwriting listening to calypso, ’50s London post-Motown, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott and Alanis Morissette.
Like Morissette, Anjulie has a penchant for unrequited-love songs. She’s never had a boyfriend, but she takes ample inspiration from the men who happen to cross her path.
“It’s only hard to sing live when the person I wrote about is in the audience,” she said. “But once I’m on stage, I’m almost like an actor. I come across very confident and sexy and the whole thing — or that’s what I’ve been told — but in real life I’m a totally socially awkward kind of geek.”
Joanna Horowitz: firstname.lastname@example.org