I like rock Ani. I like Jazz Ani. I like angry Ani. I like cute Ani. And hey, even when she's on a bandwagon that went right on passed by because life got in the way, i still like where her head is at. But... Oh my is she in need of an editor on this work.
It's acoustic Jazz Ani at her rambling worst. Words spill out, the guitar plinks (technical term, literally means "turn that crap off!") 'Tunes' meander with no purpose. Is this chill out? Is it supposed to be deep? Sounds like lack of focus to me. Or middle age tempering the fire that once raged?
The FeminAniNazi's will rail, of course, but this CD has none of the spirit of her early output, none of the focus of her Rock stuff. None of the heart achingly beautiful introspection of her turn of the century works. And none of the slinky cool of her Jazzy work, man.
For die hards only, then. But do remember that one Ani is still better that a thousand Alanis's. This one is just worth slightly less, 871 Alanis's perhaps :o)
Addendum: Since reviewing this disc Ani has released a further two albums, Knuckle Down and Reprieve. Both, i am pleased to say, are a 5 star return to form.
Not only has ani difranco written all the songs, played all the music and sung both lead and backing vocals on this new album, she also recorded and mixed it all herself. This may not sound like anything that impressive but it's the first album she's played and sung entirely alone for over a decade and the recording was done at home on an 8-track! I am currently on my second listen (in a row) and I'm still getting used to all the new songs but, so far, all good. A few spoken numbers including "grand canyon" (her political song for the album) which starts "i love my country / by which i mean / i am indebted joyfully / to all the people throughout its history / who have fought the government to make it right" and goes on to describe feminism as the "coolest f-word ever." The booklet contains not only all the lyrics but also three poems and some fantastic artwork by ani, all simple black and white drawings that go with the laid-bare sound of the album. Another beautiful work, definitely recommended.
Many of Ani's fans will have been waiting anxiously for this album, assuming that it's a return to the classic sound present in her self-titled first collection and Not So Soft. They couldn't be further from the truth; although this is her first truly solo album since she released those two over ten years ago, she's still very much in modern Ani territory. Over the past few years, we've seen her folk-punk mellow out into a more jazzy, relaxed sound; this continues here into what could be described as a quiet, introspective meloncholy. As personal as ever, Ani reflects on failed relationships - specifically her recent marriage - as well as the nature of patriotism and the love of her country despite the hatred of its leader. Beautiful but jarring, this isn't going to convert anyone to the DiFranco stable - for the rest of us, however, it's a wonderful addition to an overflowing collection.
A problem Ani di Franco has always had is that she does too many albums..she still has this problem. Of this album probably 2 or 3 songs are up to her average, the rest is uninspired. Usually, what any lacked in terms of musical arrangements she had in inspiration and songwriting ability, but here it looks like the songs do not have a recognisable melody, and the sound is even more poor than usual. So a very minimalist record, but without the great songwriting skills that Ani has shown in so many of her previous albums ("evolve" was so much better on this side). The exceptions are Swim and Origami, which are definitely 2 jewels, the rest is forgettable.