It's been a good while since I've listened in total awe to an Ani studio disc. Admittedly, I'm still on the fence concerning last year's Evolve. Reveling/Reckoning could have been one hell of a single disc. So I guess that leaves 1999's blistering To The Teeth. Not wanting to sound like a wise ass, but that was a whole century ago.
Her first solo disc in a decade, Educated Guess is no exception. What I don't get out of Ani's self contained latest (she wrote, designed, recorded, produced, etc, etc) is the sense of a maturing Difranco vision. A challenger and alchemist at heart, Educated Guess for the most part, finds our rebellious heroine giving into her penchant for spastic rhythm changes at the expense of melody and rhythmic flow of the past. Her use of her sing-songy little girl voice is wearing thin also. For most of the disc Ani's preaching to the choir with few flashes of the bite, balls and bonhomie that got me into the righteous babe in the first place. First off the spoken word flings sound terribly juvenile, although Grand Canyon does manage to kick up some dust. Bubble and Swim tread the familiar waters of learning-from-failed-loves theme in rather non-stimulating Difranco ways. The same can be said for Origami your usual fem-based 'men are the weaker sex' type thing.
On the other hand, Bliss Like This is a snazzy popper and Animal harkens back to classic Ani with sharp lyric play and twisted, resonant guitar. Bodily and Akimbo will have no trouble finding themselves into her set-lists.
I've often commented to Ani-ites and her detractors that her prolificacy, like the artist-now-called-Prince-again, is, at times, her downfall. I've also mentioned that perhaps a producer, and not a yes man/yes woman is what both need to carve the best out of their brilliant charges and save the rest for the inevitable official bootleg series. Educated Guess won't have me retracting that statement.
Copyright 2004, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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