Which Side Are You On?

Ani DiFranco
Righteous Babe Records

Music review by Sebastian Gahan 17/1/2012

It's been almost four years since Ani DiFranco's last album was released and now 2012 is greeted with the release of her newest album, Which Side Are You On?

If you saw DiFranco live at anytime over the past few years she'll probably have played one of the songs on this album and the best thing about their incarnation on record is that although you may recognise the words and the insightful voice behind them, the music has changed almost unrecognisably from its live setting. Here the opening chords of the first track Life Boat are enhanced by sparkling background noises and pensive additional guitar songs. You could say that the line 'you can smell me coming down the street' is as apt as it aural equivalent.

Other songs that impressed live and add more of the wow factor on record include the self-evident If Yr Not which benefits from an improvised jazz inspired backing and lyrics that are as plain spoken and meaningful as ever. The same can be said for the political but humorous J wrapped in golden production that brings added edge to the deeply political words.

The title track, a brittle guitar and voice combo in its live setting, is equally as powerful on record and incredibly on-message with the times we are in. The addition of pulsating marching drums and brass adds an urgency that is genuinely inspiring. Perhaps if we saw this song on the news performed all over the world people would have a better idea of exactly which side they were on. Isn’t that the true power of music?

There is much to recommend Which Side Are You On? and the lush production, tour honed songs and refreshed voice of Ani DiFranco are simply three among many.

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