Ani Difranco - Which Side Are You On?
Legend in our midst Ani DiFranco returns with her first set of new tracks in three years. Despite the title track and its long place in the history of protest music, ""Which Side Are You On?" focuses on inner turmoil and a longing to find ways to negotiate a world gone wrong. DiFranco's lyrics have always been personal and immediate, and nothing is different here. What is different is a still raw but more melancholy look at the things that confuse and outrage her. She seems less defiant and more aware of the limits of protest.
"Life Boat" and "If Yr Not' mix her fingerpicking with tasty feedback and distorted electric guitar
Unworry and Splinter have a lo-fi jazzy feel; likewise Amendment uses abrasive touches to her political admonition and defense of women's rights (compassion has many faces and many names"). It is a companion piece to her cover of the classic title track. The jaunty snarky pop of "Promiscuity" and the reggae-lite "J" feel like throwaways in comparison. The final two songs are perhaps the best, the stark and eerie "Hearse" creating a dark gospel mood, and "Zoo," a wistful, poignant track that, while not subtle lyrically, is as heartfelt a plea for tolerance as she's ever delivered.
Recorded in her hometown of the last few years, New Orleans, "Which Side Are You On?" features many guests from the area, mostly horn players and assorted Neville Brothers, but also guitarist Adam Levy and singer Anais Mitchell. Once again, Ani DiFranco makes you feel like she has just sat down in front of you and is going to share some news with her friend. Her openness and grit are a rare combination, and while she seems sadder this time around, she is still as direct and right on as ever.
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