Wednesday
Dec082004

« Ani DiFranco »

I find myself oddly liking a recent Ani DiFranco CD called Evolve. Kelli bought it while we were gone on our honeymoon. She had the misfortune of recording a couple of CDs before she left, but in the wrong format and they didn't play in the car CD player. So we hit a record store along the way and she got this CD.

I sort of liked it on the first listen, which was a little scary. I had known about Ani for a long time; Kelli told me about her maybe back in '97 or so. I remember hearing a bit of her stuff close to then, but not around Kelli. Since then I've heard bits but not enough to like or consider myself informed. I've heard more since Kelli moved in.

This CD has some bits on it that sort of echo the sort of thing I'd like to do. She has a lyrical approach that can alternately delight me and scare the shit out of me. I'm not so fond of her staccato singing as much as I've heard, but this CD seems to have less than expected, so I can get around to "getting" her delivery. I like the whole band arrangements on this CD more than some of the more solitary stuff I've heard. Some of them sound like demented Stax-era R&B. Then there is the clincher—some sound like Dancing-era Mike Keneally! There are distinctive phrases that are right out of the Keneally book, and it's sort of neat to hear some of that vocabulary outside of the Keneally world. Ditto some perverse horn harmonies that are just tooting some unusual chords and phrases. I just noticed that there is hardly any electric guitar on this. Is that typical Ani?

Ani is sort of a latecomer to my club of self-produced, often multiinstrumentally talented artists. I'm sort of burned on Mike Keneally though. Kevin Gilbert is amazing still but dangerous to listen to in amounts like I once did, and Adrian Belew still delights, but I've been trying to ease the Fripp/Belew/Guitar Craft approach back a little so as to explore my own identity. Todd Rundgren and Stevie Wonder I respect, but don't know as much about them. So it is sort of nice to get another artist on the order of Kevin Gilbert who can not only write emotionally gripping stuff, but can play some instruments, and even run a mixing board well.

I find listening to this Ani CD that I want to go in and try to do some stuff again. Getting that guitar also is exciting—it's the first new guitar I've bought in five years and more. I even bought a new bass too (my 11th or 12th)! I advertised again for a drummer to help me jam and compose some stuff, and there have been a couple bites, so I'll see what happens, but in the despondence after the election, I sort of want to ease up on the political stuff and see if I can connect with music again. I know, it's been like this for years now, but I'm charged again. We'll see what happens.

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