If you close your eyes and listen to the sweet, silky vocals from Anika in her single “Are You Down” you might find yourself falling prey to her magnetic charm. Sounding like a beautiful, dreamy concoction made up of Anita Baker, Carol King and even a smudge of Debbie Gibson vocals, Anika sets the tone quickly. “Are You Down” is sophisticated pop, with smooth jazz elements fused with R&B rhythms. The Laguna Beach, California songstress deploys an equally ray of sunshine into the final mix – “Are You Down” ignites that much-needed spark to kick off 2022’s indie music bonanza.
The backing music paints a sensual tone, a vibe that screams intimacy. I’m also reminded somewhat of a jazz club, with blue-velvety textures inferred. The colors that the instrumentation casts are vibrant and save for the brassy horns and their golden, sunflower-burst essence, are passionately rouge and regal purples. Anika’s voice, at times just as sun-kissed as her home state, and vulnerable as former pop chart topper Gibson, has moments where the smoky-hues in her timbre make their presence known. When she sings “let me be your favorite girl tonight” there isn’t shock or awe. There is just romanticism and acceptance. She plays it cool and you get a sense that she’s not trying to be too over-the-top. I liked that she was so authentic in her vocal delivery. I think there are many listeners out there that can relate to wanting to turn up the heat, but not come across too desperate. The way she sang the chorus really struck me in that way.
The percussion also stood out. I felt like enthralling beats were at tempo that hit more at your heartstrings than your typical smooth jazz/pop/R&B track. That’s modern music for you! Always changing. Evolving. The drums were not tinny or echoey, but rather fierce and congo-like. The piano, a subtle touch and added bonus, perfectly played underneath the mix like a dainty, elegant dance. I think music fans will be impressed by the depth and the directions both the music bed and Anika’s vocals take them. I was expecting something slick – but completely surprised by the storytelling Anika accomplished within the song’s structure. When you think of those pining moments, those yearnings to be with someone, it can be a whirlwind of emotions. She takes the ‘want’ in life and sculpts together a song that has fierce emotions. I wanted to keep listening.
I’m positive this is just the first inning for Anika. I can tell that “Are You Down” is the beginning of a career that will explore universal emotions, and at the same time, draw from deeply personal experiences. Her artistry is just blossoming. It’s exciting to witness this and be present. I think Anika’s greatest appeal is the honesty she professes in her voice. The exuberance she exhales in each note is interesting. She has a natural empathy and frankly she sounds very friendly. “Are You Down” is on its way to being a hit…I just know it.
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