The InsiderOne Daily Report
Friday, February 16, 2001
Ani DiFranco's Journey
InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: There's something awe-inspiring about a new Ani DiFranco album, the fact that an artist so talented as DiFranco also controls every aspect of her career as recording and performing artist, as recording-company owner. If her music weren't any good, or if she didn't have plenty to say, it wouldn't matter, but it is and she does. Her new album arrived in the mail the other day, unfolding the latest chapter of the story as DiFranco continues what she once described to me as her "personal musical journey." The album, titled Revelling Reckoning, is an expansive two-CD set, due for release on April 10. DiFranco has been making albums for over a decade, beginning when she was just 19, and it's fascinating to watch her mature through her music. "I feel I have more and more musical ideas as I get older," she told me in December 1998. "Basically, I just have more ideas about a lot of things. I feel like I've only really just started my personal musical journey. I come from somewhere, I come from folk music. And I think that my sound in the beginning was very folk-oriented fingerpicking and C-D-G and singing verse-chorus-verse. And I think that my mind is just starting to go in its own new little directions. And it'd be hard for me to describe those verbally, but I think they're evidenced on the new record." She was talking about Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, her current album at the time, but she could just as easily have been speaking about Revelling Reckoning. DiFranco's music is even more diverse here, ranging from the Prince-influenced funk of the opening track, "Ain't That the Way," to the more traditional DiFranco folk of "Your Next Bold Move," which takes on the Bush/multinational machine. If you look to singer/songwriters to provide some help in getting through life's hard stuff, DiFranco doesn't disappoint. "Sometimes it's all we can do to hang on," she sings in "Garden of Simple." Or, in "Marrow": "You were smoking me/ Weren't you?/ Between your yellow fingers/ You just inhaled and exhaled without saying a word." DiFranco sounds even better here than she has previously her voice more expressive, her music more nuanced. And she's taking more chances with her lyrics and songwriting, as well as the arrangements. Half the tracks are just DiFranco, solo. The other half feature DiFranco and her band Shane Endsley (trumpet, vocals), Daren Hahn (drums, vocals), Jason Mercer (bass, kazoo, vocals), Hans Teuber (flute, sax, clarinet, vocals) and Julie Wolf (keyboards, vocals. Jon Hassell guests on "Revelling" and Maceo Parker appears on "What How When Where (Why Who)" and "Ain't That the Way." DiFranco herself plays acoustic and electric guitars, drums, bass, "honky keys," tamburitza, tongue drum and shakers. And she sings. There are 29 tracks; two hours of music. This is gonna take some getting into.
Datastream: Black Box Recorder's brilliant second album The Facts of Life, one of our favorite albums of 2000, will finally see a U.S. release by Jetset Records on March 20th. We've been known to describe the Black Box Recorder sound as "ethereal mood music, at times slightly sinister." ... Ladytron's 604, a 16-track electro-pop extravaganza, is just out on Emperor Norton Records, and quite excellent. Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo provide the often-deadpan vocals and some of the electronics; Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu provide the rest of the sounds. Some of the songs are about relationships gone askew, or just gone dead. ... And if you haven't already gotten the word about the moody Icelandic combo Sigur Ros' Agaetis Byrjun, we can tell you that it's worth the import price.
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Michael Goldberg is the president of insiderone.net. He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.