Picks and Pans Review: Revelling/Reckoning
The double-decaf folk circuit got a shot of espresso when Ani DiFranco stormed New York City's music scene in the early '90s. Injecting her songs with bold lyrics and punk attitude while ignoring the lines separating rock, blues, jazz and the spoken word, the Buffalo native shared her observations of life and the road. When she couldn't find a corporate home, she started her own label, freeing herself to chase her muse and develop high-powered yet intimate live performances. On this double CD the 30-year-old singer and guitarist is backed by keyboards, bass, drums and horns as she explores the complex politics of personal relationships. For DiFranco the heart is as labyrinthine as Congress. At her quirky best, on tunes like the enigmatic and funky, kazoo-enlivened "Kazoointoit" and the jazzy "Rock Paper Scissors," she errs only when she abandons subtlety (as on the earnest "Subdivisions," in which she expounds on racism and social divisions).
Bottom Line: Right-on reckoning