Ani Di Franco
Up Up Up Up
Our Lady of Bisexual Song has come out with yet another album, proving that she can be even more prolific than the Artist Formerly Known as Interesting. Except, of course, she does not have to write SLAVE on her cheek because she is master of her domain.
Before reviewing this new album, it absolutely must be noted that Ani’s albums will never compare to her live shows. The studio has never managed to express her growling energy onstage, any more than seeing the white tiger at the Mirage in Vegas captures the spirit of the wild.
Innovative in some respects and mundane in others, this cd is pretty damn good. The sexuality and vulnerability that charged her records of recent years, including Not A Pretty Girl (1995), Dilate (1996), Living in Clip (1997), and last year’s Little Plastic Castles have been put on the back burner while lefty politics take the main stage. Our punky folky who rambles endlessly and spews out the occasional gem whilst she strums that faithful guitar has been experimenting with new sounds that add a new edge to the album.
Social responsibility is alive and well in Aniville. A constant in all of her albums, it is now back in full force. From the failed Reaganomics of "trickle down" to the little Jerry Springers we have unfortunately become in "tis of thee" to the man vs. God issue of "up up up up up up". The accordion and banjo on "angry anymore" may lead you to believe that someone took a stroll down Nashville’s Music Row, while the gritty sensuality of "jukebox" is one of the strongest tracks on the cd.
Only the final 13mn long track (!!!) "hat shaped hat", beginning with Ani crying out "I’m not gonna be afraid" is so inarticulate, disharmonious, and boring that you almost break the stereo in two trying to turn it off.
These songs are distanced from the introspection and self-examination (or tortured self absorbed melodrama, depending on your view) of prior albums; instead there is a strong focus on social commentary and observation.
Give it a try