Tuesday, January 24, 2012


It's been a bit for Difranco, three years, and a tumultuous time for a topical songwriter to sit for long.  Human rights, as always, are front and centre, as well as personal politics, with the artist always willing to bare her own life for the sake of the discussion.  Musically, this is one of her most adventurous productions, using a whole host of guests, including various New Orleans folks, plus out-there instrumentalists.  Various grooves are used, with Difranco's often wordy verses stuffed into the melodies.  Sonically, at least, it's a success, but sometimes the verbosity overwhelms.

The title track is of course the famous Pete Seeger union tune, here updated with lots of new verses where Difranco recasts it as a direct question to men about feminism.  It has the author's blessing, as Seeger does the banjo part here, and once again as a musical number is a winner.  When the New Orleans horns blow in halfway through, there's real power, and it's a mighty production.  But since she's probably preaching to the converted for the most part, there's really not much power in the words, as the audience is nodding heads in agreement.

Elsewhere, Difranco gets funky and jazzy, and has better luck with the words, getting into a more lyrical seam than just sending out statements.  It's quite enjoyable when she cuts out half the words, as on the cut Albacore, when her voice is allowed to shine, and even warm up to the notes a bit.  This gentle love song has much more power than the political numbers, and the essays she composes.  I'll give her one thing though, when she gets a good line out, it can cut right through.  If Yr Not features the killer "If you're not getting happier as you get older, than you're fucking up".  I took a gulp at that one.  It's another with the killer production found all through this, with great New Orleans horns, pounding drums and solid rhythm Tom Waits would love.  Great sound, but the words are hit-and-miss.

1 comment:

  1. Just a belated comment on the "Top 100 Cdn. Albums" -The exclusion of Syrinx and Kensington Market when acts like Teenage Head and Pursuit of Happiness make the cut- renders the whole thing a pathetic joke.