I’m not the type to defend everything any of my favorite artists’ release, nor am I inclined to adore what does not impress, inspire or initiate emotional responses, but that simply does not apply to the latest release by Aneessa. Here she presents a smooth and colorful blend of instruments and voice, the jazz backdrop taking a soft but edgy and effective backseat to Aneessa’s vocals – sweet, soft, yet powerful and lyrically impressive. One of seven children with a wide range of musical tastes all around her, Aneessa was born in Saint-Étienne in eastern central France. Initially, she made an indelible impression on the dance scene under the stage names Anya Rose and Lady Aneessa. Inspired by international pop icon Madonna, Aneessa applied the singing and dancing skills she picked during her schooling years, and even went on to win a major French dance competition (Championnat U.N.S.S De Danse Contemporaine).
Aneessa moved to Paris, France where she studied literature and languages at University La Sorbonne. It was here that she began singing Jazz, Soul and Pop covers, before moving to Manchester England for a couple of years. She returned to France and started a variety of career moves – from starting her own record label, recording studio and a graphic design company. Along the way she met influential collaborators, and branched out into a number of projects on a global scale.
Aneessa eventually met up with Motown producer Michael B. Sutton (Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross), for business propositions for a media company she was working for. This business relationship blossomed into love commitment, and eventually the two began writing and producing new material together, with Aneessa turning her skills towards smooth jazz interpretations.
She debuted with a cover of Soul II Soul’s 1989 anthem, “Back to Life,” which cracked the Top 10 of Billboard Magazine’s “Smooth Jazz” chart, and replicated with a cover of Madonna’s “Miles Away”. The latest single, written by Aneessa and Michael, “Just to Be with You”, is about their long-distance, interfaith, loving relationship which bloomed while being far away from each other, and ending up with Aneesa eventually going to visit Michael, and never returning home again.
The silky edge and warm-blooded intimacy of Aneessa’s voice will draw you into her world. Hers is the kind of voice that can breathe life back into the most ordinary phrases. There is something thrillingly graceful and elegant about the storytelling on “Just to Be with You”. It resists explicit elucidation, while still embodying an unabashed confluence of the singer’s innermost emotions and sentiments.
“Just to Be with You” begins with a smooth and soulful sax interlude, riding a slapping drumbeat, buttery keys, a throbbing bassline, and a clean guitar jangle. Under elastic horn embellishments, the song transitions into a swoony, and luscious soundscape laced with gently rich harmonies, and Aneessa’s sultry melody which leads the way.
The intricate, hypnotic blend of vocal interplay, shimmering horns, and a syncopated rhythm section feels lustrously polished and harmoniously effortless. It sounds like Aneessa currently makes music purely for the joy of making it. It’s this creative drive that leads her to create such sublime recordings, together with Michael B. Sutton. The two bring a particular grace to their songwriting that allows Aneessa to adapt her voice almost seamlessly to any sonic form.
Everything in “Just to Be with You” works, and perfectly plays its part – whether it’s the super groovy rhythm section, the resonating sax, or the shimmering piano keys. Undeniably smooth and unpretentious in its execution, even if you’re not particularly inclined towards smooth jazz, you’ll be captivated by Aneessa!