Album: Ani Difranco, Which Side Are You On? (Righteous Babe)

4.00

 

Ani DiFranco's first album in three years finds the self-proclaimed Righteous Babe in feisty, thoughtful form, her political ardour undimmed despite a discernibly increased interest in the effects of ageing, particularly the way it deepens and matures the once callow emotions of love and devotion.

Unlike some songwriters who hide behind over-elaborate metaphor and allusion, DiFranco is sometimes alarmingly straight-spoken, with a journalist's desire to convey the facts (and opinions) as clearly as possible: "Every time I open my mouth, I take off my clothes, and run frostbitten from being exposed," as she explains in the opening "Life Boat". So it's no surprise to find her covering that most direct and confrontational of protest anthems, "Which Side Are You On?", where the presence of 92-year-old Pete Seeger's banjo alongside the brass of youthful New Orleans marching-band musicians makes an explicit point about the perennial persistence of certain political issues. As if to emphasise this point, Di Franco updates the lyric with extra verses of her own, using references to things like "the curse of Reaganomics" to re-direct the titular query at a new president.

Her disappointment that Obama hasn't yet turned out to be FDR Mk 2 is also apparent in "J", a reflection on hope and stagnation in her Louisiana homeland, initially prompted by her observation of the disparity between her personal experience of drugs with that endlessly relayed on TV, in news and drama shows alike. The track's spooky swirl of keyboards and guitars is echoed later in "Amendment", where she revives the dormant issue of the Equal Rights Amendment, further demanding that abortion be enshrined as a right. While recognising pro-lifers' right to raise their children as they see fit, she adds, "Don't treat all women as if they are your children".

Sexuality is more directly addressed in "Promiscuity", which she characterises as a kind of "research and development" process. "How you gonna know what you need and you like, till you been around the block a few times on your bike?" she asks, an attitude that leads to the increased regard for age and experience evident in songs such as "Unworry", "Mariachi" and "Albacore".

Set to gentle, springy guitar chording over loping double bass, the latter song expresses her surprise at finding love later in life, her delight adroitly summarised in the acknowledgement that, "When I am next to you, I am more me." As an expression of devotion, it's challenged here only by "Hearse", which deals dextrously with the difficult balancing act of juggling the prospects of both love and death. "I don't wanna strive for nothing any more," she admits. "I will follow you into the next world like a dog running after a hearse." It's such a strange image, at once tragic and comic, sad yet uplifting, that one's heart can't help but swell with emotion, which, for all her righteousness, is something one never expected from a polemicist as direct and unvarnished as Ani DiFranco.

DOWNLOAD THIS Which Side Are You On?; Life Boat; Hearse; Albacore; J

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen