1 min

Righteous babe

Ani's evolution

STUNNING PACKAGE. Ani DiFranco's lyrical gems. Credit: Xtra files

Musicians can spend all their time and energy trying to shut down sites like Napster, or they can evolve. Ani DiFranco’s new album Evolve is so stunningly packaged a burned copy would be sadly lacking. Ani has delicately crafted a beautiful book of well-composed lyrics that result in 12 new bittersweet songs. Evolve is a solid album. But is it the “definitive collection” from DiFranco that the promotion for the album suggests? I don’t know if I can agree with that statement, but since this is an album that seems to get better every time I press play, I’m not sure I can disagree, either.

For the Ani fans that have been teetering on the love it or like it fence with her recent albums due to their sometimes ornate use of horns, I will tell you that there are only a couple of tracks that are horn happy. “Here For Now” is a dynamic example of a song that is brought to life with its use of horns; they don’t compete with DiFranco’s voice but instead punctuate it with a Latin feel that makes you want to meringue, whether you know how to or not. Another vibrant offering is “In The Way” which pulls you into the album and leads you confidently into the soon to be crowd pleasers, “Slide,” “Oh My My” and the title track.

Evolve is mostly a personal purge where DiFranco exposes, with such compelling honesty, her disillusionment with the world, her relationship and with herself. Ani also delivers the political goods with a visceral punch to the gut on “Serpentine” when she sings: “Capitalism is the devil’s wet dream, so just give me my Judy Garland drugs and let me get back to work ‘cuz the Empire State Building is the tallest building in New York.”

Early fans that grew up on a steady diet of lone acoustic guitar accompanying Ani’s powerfully resonating words need not be discouraged; it’s all still here, even the trademark harmonics are back. You just have to make room for a few more additions.

Risk taking is what makes good artists great and that is why Evolve demands and deserves the effort it takes to peel though the sonic layers to reveal the lyrical gems that will stay with you long after the music ends.

And when the CD does stop spinning I recommend you press play again.
Ani Difranco
Righteous Babe Records. $19.99.