The new Ani DiFranco record is the latest entry in DiFranco’s musical and lyrical view of the world and current events. Over the years, she has perfected her sound, and this record is a pristine example of that. Her guitar sounds tight chords with a heavy, yet not overwhelming emphasis on the lower range. Her voice is lovely—alternately cute and flirtatious or strident without being overblown, and there is a certain subtlety to delivery. She gets her point across on these songs without yelling. Her lyrics again have great turns of phrase, whether it’s “If you’re not getting happier as you get older, you’re fucking up” of “If Yr Not” or her metaphors for promiscuity on the song of the same name.
What many people forget about DiFranco is that her records combine folk, rock and funk music with interesting sound textures. Whether it’s the menacing, slightly distorted guitar in “Amendment” that matches the song’s content about the rights of women, or the stark piano filling out “Albacore,” there is a focus on the sound of each track which reveals treasures upon each listening.
All of this comes together on the title track, the labor movement anthem from the mid 20th Century. The song opens up with Pete Seeger’s banjo before the electric guitar plays a lead that sounds like a clarion bell call as DiFranco updates the lyrics to reflect the current state of government. Starting off at an intense level, the track continues to build by adding the cadences of the Roots of Music Marching Crusaders amid DiFranco’s defiant calls to action. It is a terrific update of a song whose dense textures and unequivocal point of view add to its anthemic vibe.