Annique’s voice is for the inner ear and open heart, a soul singer’s instrument carrying the freight of past greats while trailing its own strong colours. Growing up in Rainham, Essex, Annique travelled out on the strength of her voice, studying at the Academy of Contemporary Music before working with the likes of The Streets and Gorillaz, drum’n’bass outfit Step 13 and then teaming up with Koby Israelite at his south London studio for a series of informal writing sessions that have become Heads Up.
Together, Annique and Koby summon up a smokily atmospheric, sophisticated adult pop, suffused with angelic choruses, strong lyrics and heartfelt soul. You can hear World Music, Jazz and Rock. It’s mature Pop with dark, shady recesses, theatrical and bittersweet. Accordion, piano, guitars and brass coalesce in a widescreen sweep, underpinned by the bass lines of session masters Don Chandler, Neil Charles and Yaron Stavi, and topped by the poise and candour of Annique’s vocals, mixed by Grammy Award-winning producer Helik Hadar.
“We pulled out No Man’s Land.” Annique remembers of their first session. By their third, they had Never Forget The Times, the album’s signature torch song, dressed with a melody and vocals big enough to light up the darkest corners.
Their working method is up-close and old-school – sitting in the same room, over the same instrument, the piano, guitar or accordion. “We write the songs together and she writes the lyrics on her own,” says Koby, and the lyrics are smart and insightful, shaped by a lifelong education in Pop, Jazz, R&B, and dance music.
There is the sultry, close-harmony likes of Falling, set beside the wiser voice of title song Heads Up, and Loved Not Understood, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s famous maxim that ‘women should be loved not understood’. Love of My Life is a devotional song to music itself while the dramatic, pulsating London’s Burning was written during the 2011 riots in London. “I was stuck at Koby’s house in south London. We saw all this smoke down in Peckham, so I stayed at his until it died down,” remembers Annique.
Also sporting a social message, and a viral hit across social media, So Many C**ts is short for – well, hear it for yourself. “It’s not a protest song,” says Koby, “but it’s my favourite on the album. There’s an extra something to it, an emotion.”
Annique - vocals; music box (track 6)
Koby Israelite – drums, percussion, keyboards, guitars, accordion and clarinet; backing vocals (track 7); electric bass (tracks 10,15)
Yaron Stavi – upright bass (tracks 2,3,8); electric bass (track 15)
Don Chandler - electric bass (tracks 4,13)
Neil Charles - upright bass (tracks 5,7,11,14,16)
Reut Regev - flugabone, baritone horn and slide trumpet (track 7); trombone (tracks 7,15)
Joe Taylor - classical guitar (tracks 11,13)
Ofir Gal - electric guitar (track 13)
John Telfer - baritone saxophone (track 13)
1. Heaven On Our Side / 2. Love Of My Life / 3. Never Forget The Times / 4. Loved Not Understood / 5. Whisper / 6. La Vie En Rose / 7. It’s Life / 8. No Man’s Land / 9. Maybe it’s because
/ 10. London’s Burning / 11. Far From Home / 12. Fly Little Bird / 13. Fallin / 14. Safe As Stone / 15. Head’s Up / 16. So many c**ts
Total playing time 51:38
Produced by Koby Israelite
P & C Asphalt Tango Records 2014
All tracks published by Asphalt Tango Records, except track 6 and 9