Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Album Review: Ani DiFranco - Red Letter Year

It is said that becoming a parent often changes and matures you. This holds true for Ani DiFranco. When being interviewed about the release of her latest album Red Letter Year DiFranco stated,"I think I sorely needed to be slowed down and finally a little person came along powerful enough to do it."

DiFranco's daughter, Petah Lucia DiFranco Napolitano, was born January 20th, 2007 and has had a calming effect on the popular musician whose albums have often included intense rants and screams. Red Letter Year is void of this, and shows a different, more relaxed side of DiFranco.

"When I listen to my new record, I hear a very relaxed me, which I think has been absent in a lot of my recorded cannon. Now I feel like I'm in a really good place. My partner Mike Napolitano co-produced this record - my guitar and voice have never sounded better, and that's because of him. I've got this great band and crew. Any my baby, she teaches me how to just be in my skin, to do less and be more."

What is not absent from this album is the themes of politics, war, and social pressures; common themes in all of DiFranco's music. Lyrics such as "I can't pray to a male god because that would be insane" or "I can't support the troops cuz every last one of them is being duped" from the song "Alla This" will surely have familiarity with longtime fans.

But intimate songs such as "Present/Infant" which describes DiFranco's struggles as a mother are sure to connect with new listeners that may not fully ascribe to DiFranco's political and social views.

Of worthy note, DiFranco recorded the album in New Orleans and it features Louisiana artists The Rebirth Brass Band on "Red Letter Reprise," Richard Comeaux and CC Adcock.

Not being a strong fan of DiFranco I had to approach Red Letter Year with an open mind. In doing so, I was very pleased. The production of the album is top quality. DiFranco's lyrics are true poetry, and her voice soothes the soul. The different combinations of styles of music, and the changing tempo throughout keep this album alive and entertaining. The passion behind the music makes it magic.

Favorite Tracks: Present/Infant, Emancipated Minor, The Atom

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