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Righteous Babe Records

After losing track of how many CDs this most prolific of artists has released I'm still delighted to find her continually coming up with new stuff to say and new ways to say it. Whilst many fans would be happy to listen to three new albums a year of just the grrrl and her guitar, there are many more who appreciate the experiments in sound and texture she continues to explore.

This latest release on her own Righteous Babe label finds the ever-evolving Ani bringing together her musical directions of the past few years. The overall sound is jazzy and funky - a seam she has mined in other albums - but this time the effect is more coherent, the sound of talented, innovative artists comfortable with each other and the music they're making. The band appears to have assimilated and relaxed into Ani's unique style so that you don't feel she's disappearing behind it. It's not until hearing how right it sounds this time that I realize previous recordings may not have managed the balance so well.

Ani herself says that tracks such as Evolve and Serpentine are signposting her current direction, and it's one of her strengths that she never stays still. However, whilst Serpentine is a captivating mixture of music and almost-spoken word, Evolve's overtly jazz rhythms and melodies, whilst expertly played, lose me somewhere along the way and become background music.

Towards the end of the album, Here for Now is classic DiFranco wordplay with a perfect blend of vocal and instrumentation, leading into the delicate wind instrument ornamentations of Second Intermission. On the whole, this release emphasises the worth of sticking with Ani as she explores new territories; you learn a lot with her even if it's not all to your immediate taste and when it strikes a chord it's one that resonates louder than almost any other artist today.

Kit Bailey - March 2003

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An impeccable selection of the best in folk, roots and acoustic music.
Mike Harding
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Celtic Roots - BBC Scotland

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