Album Review :: Ani DiFranco – ¿Which Side Are You On?

“…just the correct amount of “right-on” politics, sung soothingly through her Buffalo accent and delivered in a heavily poetical style”

It must have been about 2001, I was thirteen and reading an interview with Alkaline Trio’s guitarist Matt Skiba who was mentioning music that inspired him, one of those acts was Ani DiFranco. A few years later a friend of mine downloaded (illegally) the track Gratitude and I fell in love instantly with the stripped down folk sound and intensely emotive lyrical content. I’d heard one song and I was hooked so I headed to the nearest record shop, which was unfortunately HMV, and thankfully found a copy of 2005’s album Reprieve. The album did not disappoint and as soon as I worked out how the hell to order stuff offline I bought every album by DiFranco I could and have eagerly anticipated every release since.

This album is very much an Ani DiFranco album, her style hasn’t changed massively since the 90’s and her initial self titled full length release, but this is by no means a bad thing. If the phrase “if it isn’t broke…” has ever rained true, then Ani is the case in point. That’s not to say the album hasn’t progressed at all, with an interesting use of electronic drums on the title track and the Mars Volta-esque guitar solo two thirds into Amendment, along with the bizarre deep vocal effect on the track J which makes the song sound very much like a homage to the Pennsylvania tripsters, Ween. But apart from some slightly more experimental use of production, the songs themselves feature everything expected from the Feminist virtuoso, featuring just the correct amount of “right-on” politics, sung soothingly through her Buffalo accent and delivered in a heavily poetical style, whilst dashing it all with a tantalising amount of love.
The album is not completely without fault, and the afore mentioned title track becomes a bit of a drag towards the end. Ani’s politics are in the right place but the constant repetition of the title line “Which Side are You on” makes the track sound more of a rant than a justified political statement, but this is only a minor fault on what is otherwise a superb release from Ani.
It wouldn’t be an Ani album without at least a cargo ship full of inspirational lyrics and this record is no exception. There are far too many to mention so I’ll end with what I feel it the most crucial hook in the entire of ¿Which Side Are You On? “If you’re not getting happier as you grow older, you’re fucking up.”

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