Ani DiFranco – ¿Which Side Are You On?

January 01, 1970

(Righteous Babe)


Ani DiFranco is nothing if not outspoken, so it’s not
surprising to find her espousing her points of view on ¿Which Side Are You On?, the self-proclaimed
Righteous Babe’s first album in more than three years. That’s an unusually long
delay between albums by DiFranco’s standards; given her prolific prowess, fans
have come to expect multiple releases in a single year. Likewise, that’s
one reason why it’s sometimes difficult to get a handle on her MO. An artist,
entrepreneur and activist for a numerous feminist and political causes, she’s
even managed to befuddle her fans at times, particularly when it comes to her


probably won’t be a problem here, and even though the title poses a question
about today’s ideological divide, it’s pretty obvious even at the outset that
DiFranco is fed up with the anguish and antagonism ripping the country apart.
The title track dictates the basic mantra; a revered song by Pete Seeger,
DiFranco updates the lyric to rail against Reaganomics and the economic
shortfalls that have battered the national psyche. Seeger accompanies her on banjo
on this track — an apt choice of
course — but the variety of all-star sidekicks – members of the Neville
Brothers, Adam Levy, label mate Anaïs Mitchell, and several various
veteran horn players – speaks to the serious stature she’s attained 20 albums
on. Even so, the melodies aren’t so easily embraced; loping, ephemeral and
often sounding blithely disconnected, they defy any attempt
at grasping an easy hook or chorus. What’s more, the loose grooves sometimes run
counter to the tunes’ sense of profundity, particularly when it comes to tracks
like “Amendment,” “J” and “Promiscuity,” which find DiFranco unleashing both rancor
and resolve.


for all her outrage, DiFranco assures her listeners this isn’t her season of
discontent. All the evidence needed can be summed up in a key line from “If Yr
Not:” “If
yr not getting happier as you get older, then yr fucking up,” she insists. That’s
good advice for all, no matter which side they find themselves on.


DOWNLOAD: “Promiscuity,” “Which

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