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Reprieve
     

Reprieve

by Ani DiFranco
 
Ani DiFranco long ago established herself as one of the most direct -- in-your-face, even -- songwriters of her generation, capable of sticking a lyrical lance into any target of her choosing, be it a political bogeyman or a personal foe. She's made those parries more intriguing in recent years by framing them against more shadowy, more experimental backdrops -- an

Overview

Ani DiFranco long ago established herself as one of the most direct -- in-your-face, even -- songwriters of her generation, capable of sticking a lyrical lance into any target of her choosing, be it a political bogeyman or a personal foe. She's made those parries more intriguing in recent years by framing them against more shadowy, more experimental backdrops -- an M.O. that continues on Reprieve, a disc that's rife with melodic surprises that belie the sparseness of its instrumentation (woven solely by DiFranco and bassist Scott Sickafoose). As is usually the case on a DiFranco offering, there's a good deal of political content on Reprieve -- "Decree" approaches behind-closed-doors party maneuverings with clenched fists and clenched teeth -- but there's a decidedly more personal vibe to most of its songs. That's not altogether surprising, given that she was just weeks into the recording when New Orleans -- a city close to her heart, and one where she was ensconced in the studio -- was hit by Hurricane Katrina. The only time she actually addresses the plight of the Crescent City is on the seething "Millennium Theater," which ends with DiFranco dolefully painting a picture where "the ice caps are melting while New Orleans bides her time." The atmospheric pull is unmistakable, though, particularly on songs like the skittish "In the Margins" and the stark, mournful "Hypnotized," both of which bear up with a hardscrabble elegance reminiscent of 1999's To the Teeth. There's a lot going on here, both in terms of sound -- DiFranco's untrained-but-apt percussive fillips are especially tantalizing -- and in terms of topicality, but there's something to be said for an artist who expects as much from her audience as from herself.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
Ani DiFranco has proven prolific and eclectic within a genre that might be called punk-folk. Reprieve, for instance, is her second album of 2006, and the style is much closer to singer/songwriter folk than rocking early-'90s albums like Not a Pretty Girl. One might be tempted to say the "angry girl" has become a mellow woman, more personal than political. But making a blanket statement about DiFranco and her music usually proves careless. Politics, for instance, rears its head on "Millennium Theater," an ode to orange alerts, Halliburton, and the slow response in New Orleans. She also relates to politics in a broader sense on "Shroud," rejecting Middle America's values and aligning herself with bohemian culture. Lyrically, songs like "Hypnotized" and "Nicotine" relay DiFranco's individual sensibility; her point of view never reminds the listener of other songwriters. The downside of Reprieve is that it isn't as musically arresting as earlier albums like Out of Range, and DiFranco, on a song like "Millennium Theater," can be rather obvious. The mellow pacing combined with non-distinct melodies also causes many of these songs to run together. Fans, however, will embrace Reprieve as a fully realized project, glad that DiFranco has continued to keep in touch.
Entertainment Weekly - Will Hermes
It's beautifully committed music -- the kind that's as essential now as it has ever been. (A)

Product Details

Release Date:
08/08/2006
Label:
Righteous Babe
UPC:
0748731705220
catalogNumber:
52
Rank:
124582

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