Ani DiFranco : Which Side Are You On?
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Ani DiFranco : Which Side Are You On?

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After three years, her longest gap between albums ever, Ani Difranco releases Which Side Are You On?, an album with two sides of its own. The New Orleans-based wife and mother (hard to fathom for some long-term fans) and the provoked politico seem like they would butt heads, but instead flow side-by-side in this complex, fulfilling album.

With 16 other studio albums to compare to, Which Side Are You On? plucks inspiration from 1999’s To The Teeth onward. The title track is the classic folk standard made famous by Pete Seeger, which Ani performed at his 90th birthday in 2009. Updated with her own verses, the pulsing anthem features a New Orleans chorus, brass band and Pete himself, and shows off the stronger side of Ani’s vocals. Also on the political team are the mesmerising Splinter, which examines the age of hyper-consumerism (as does the final track Zoo) and our disconnection with nature. J is a reggae-tinged look into the New Orleans oil spill, marijuana laws and her feelings of disillusionment towards the Obama administration (‘The dude could be FDR right now / Instead he’s just shifting his weight’).

There is a softness to this album not seen before, with the sweetly sung Albacore offering literal lines like ‘When I am next to you / I am more me / Inside me is a room to which you hold the key’. Mariachi brings in her famed lyrical metaphors (yes, together they form a mariachi band) and the tinkling Hearse explores the complexity of love and death. The more hard-edged guitars of Promiscuity and If Yr Not are refreshing against the occasional twee-ness of her love songs. It seems the personal struggle has at last been won, but Ani’s prominent revolutionary drive will always bring interest to her tunes.

BY GEORGIE BRYANT

Best Track: Which Side Are You On?

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