Ani DiFranco – Knuckle Down

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Ani DiFranco
Artist: Ani DiFranco
Title: Knuckle Down
Label: Righteous Babe
Rating: 8/10

CORPORATE LINE: The music on Ani DiFranco’s latest CD is as stunning as ever, packed with irresistible melodies, poignant lyrics, and virtuoso performances. And for the first time in her career, Ani has invited a fellow singer-songwriter to work with her as co-producer: Joe Henry, himself the creator of nine highly regarded solo albums. She is also joined by more than half a dozen guest musicians, many of whom have played key roles in Ani’s recent career, including current stage partner Todd Sickafoose, former band member Julie Wolf, and Righteous Babe recording artist Andrew Bird. Through twelve songs as intricately crafted as short stories, DiFranco creates another unforgettable musical self-portrait of a woman coming to grips with love’s twists and turns, confronting the legacy of her family, and learning to live on her own terms.

THE GREAT:
“Studying Stones” – Even with the country/folk instrumentation there is something deep and soulful that is always a part of Ani but here it connects on a level that hasn’t been there on the last couple records. This is a hell of a gorgeous song.
“Modulation” – Sound and vocal effects is a change for Difranco and the lyrics and vocals that never miss a moment to move the listener.
“Callous” – Usually the mention of Ani Difranco harkens the thoughts of the ferocious and bitter but “Callous” is absolutely beautiful.
“Paradigm” – Just when you get stuck in the beautiful orchestration Difranco drops stunning lyrics just to make sure you are awake.

THE AVERAGE:
“Manhole” – Certainly with Difranco there is no run of the mill yet this is average for her.
“Parameters” – Reviews are about taste and this spoken word track seems out of place on a record that flows so well.

THE BAD:
None.

FRANKLY: Knuckle Down goes where the last couple records only imagined. This might be the record Difranco has been trying to make for years. If ever there was a record that sound right it is Knuckle Down. Diehard fans might become distressed to find that their hero has made an album that is easily accessible. It’s not a bad thing. Knuckle Down is a record for all seasons, all feelings, and all people. Difranco has bridged a gap not many artists can claim.

+ Charlie Craine

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