Up Up Up Up Up Up
Righteous Babe Records
A review written for the Folk and Music Exchange
Have you ever wished you could sit in on a jam session with one of the most unique and powerful women in music? You know, the kind where you can just listen and be a fly on the wall as the band jams out and has fun? Well, if you have Up Up Up Up Up Up, you can. Ani DiFranco's 12th solo album is as close as it gets.
Recorded with a full-fledged band during the summer of 1998 at Kingsway in New Orleans, Louisiana, this album has the spontaneity and feel of a band playing live music. The whole album was tracked live with few overdubs. Unlike DiFranco's earlier studio CD's where, for the most part, each song was its own neat little package, the songs on this recording seem to go into freeform jamming at least once during each song. At first, I felt a bit uncomfortable with the CD, wanting everything to fall neatly into the package a studio album is supposed to -- songs with a distinct beginning, middle, end, and discernable story. The experience of this CD reminded me of the first time I saw DiFranco in concert at a small coffeehouse circa 1994 -- I felt at first uncomfortable, followed by having all my preconceived notions of life and the world being blown away. Sometimes it takes this conservative kid a while, but this CD, like DiFranco, won my heart.
As I've come to expect from DiFranco, the CD explores both the personal, the political and the world with a keen eye and no apologies. DiFranco takes on drugs and their effect on personal relationships in Come Away From It, and the healing effect of time in Angry Anymore. She presents a despairing look at race and class in the U.S. with 'Tis of Thee and Trickle Down.
The band on this CD really gels, consisting of DiFranco's 1997 touring band which featured Jason Mercer on bass, Andy Stochansky on drums, and Julie Wolf on keyboards, accordion, and backing vocals.
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In this world of so much sameness and conformity, DiFranco is one musician who has unabashedly been herself from the get go and continues to be. Just when you think, "what can she do next?" you find yourself with another gem in your lap that is new, fresh and distinctly DiFranco. If you're fan, or if you've never heard her but want to challenge your way of thinking and listening, grab a copy of this CD just as soon as you can.
Edited by Jonathan Colcord