The double album Revelling/Reckoning has been the subject of widespread critical acclaim. Rolling Stone, Spin, the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post are a few of the publications that have sung the album's praises. Half the songs on each disc find Ani flying solo (playing a small orchestra's worth of instruments), while the other half feature the members of her road-tested live band along with guests Maceo Parker and Jon Hassell on horns and Lloyd Maines on pedal steel. The whole thing is wrapped up in one elegant, specially designed package, complete with a pair of lyric-and-photo booklets. On the journey from Revelling to Reckoning, Ani takes her music in countless new directions -- but she never strays from the path she's been on all along.
is the 13th album from the resolutely independent Ani Di Franco
. Released as always on her label, Righteous Babe, Di Franco has fashioned a so-so album that covers both the edgy break-up songs of her early career as well as her political and more funk-tinged material. Lavishly packed in an origami sleeved box (as if by the Next catalogue), this double CD of 29 songs is split between two CDs and distinct musical moods. That's the idea anyway. Di Franco fires on all cylinders, lyrically, (best lines--"TV is after all the modern day roman coliseum... and now millions sit jeering collectively cheering the bloodthirsty hierarchy of the patriarchal arrangement.--"Garden of Simple"). Musically, it's wallpaper, plain guitar plucking, bolstered occasionally by the odd stab of brass. Much of it sounds the same. However the songs are all pleasant in a low-key Me'shell N'dege Ocello kind of way. Of the two CDs, Reckoning has the strongest material-"Your Next Brave Move" and "So What" are the standouts. As a whole, it's chunky-post-pop-cum folk is a little too tired to sustain the course. Although the wild eclecticism of Little Plastic Castle
was rightly praised, Reckoning/Revelling
doesn't represent a revolution for this righteous babe. --Helena Dvorak