Ani Difranco’s newest effort, Revelling/Reckoning, is fairly standard; but, standard for Difranco is always exceptional. Difranco never short-changes her listeners, offering a product that’s well crafted, touchingly honest, empoweringly energetic, and musically stunning. It’s commendable that Difranco always manages to sound new, to evolve her craft without departing from her core competencies, which are honest, discerning lyrics and her special brand of guitar picking and playing.
These competencies may be what make Ani fans so fierce and passionate about this 5’2″ folk rock phenomenon, who has been gaining devotees steadily since her self-titled 1990 debut album. However, many members of the Ani army have been known to hem and haw about Difranco’s turn towards a more poppy sound since her 1998 album Little Plastic Castle.
It’s possible that fans as ferocious as Difranco’s just don’t like change. But, these aficionados will find that Difranco’s second double CD (the last being her live Living In Clip powerhouse collection) is a well gestated hybrid of Difranco’s newer, innovative styling and her time honored guitar based folk sound. And as always, the honesty and raw emotion that made every Ani fan who they are today, remains present and powerful.
The new album demonstrates a split personality. While Revelling truly teems with strength, energy and confidence, Reckoning retracts with hurt, longing, and disillusionment. But, opposites attract, and the overall effect is gratifying for the listener.