There’s music that one can enjoy, objectively — be moved by, even — music that one can see is ‘good’ or even ‘excellent’ in concept, form and delivery, but that wasn’t written for you. The musician had someone else in mind: someone more sensitive, more recently wounded, more overly taken with rhyming metaphor. And then there is music that was written for you; songs that feel like the musician got inside your head and excavated your life for public consumption.
Stephen Steinbrink’s Anagrams was written for me. I was hooked, from the first chord — despite it seeming an unlikely prospect before I pressed play, what with the promotional blurb, all sincere and full of the usual clichés (‘inspiring’, ‘unflinching’) about recovering from addiction and madness. But this is a joyful album; redemptive, true and full of insights that might have been plucked out of my diary, had I kept one (‘Left reality 2002,’ Steinbrink sings on Psychic Daydream, the best song I’ve heard all year: ‘thought that everyone was hating you’). I don’t know how Steinbrink could improve what he’s done here. I’m smitten.
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