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World Music CD Reviews North American


Published April 19, 2006

Righteous Babe

Ani DiFranco says goodbye to one productive musical phase in her career on Evolve. Working again with keyboardist Julie Wolf, reeds player Hans Teuber, bassist Jason Mercer, drummer Daren Hahn and trumpeters Todd Horton, Ravi Best and Shane Endsley, the songwriter-guitarist ends her band-leading days with this piercing collection. Anger and disillusionment still permeate, DiFranco using additional instrumentation to punctuate keen observations. The trumpets lend an ironic jazz twist to the black political heartbreak of “Promised Land.” The songwriter’s trademark rhythmic picking drives the blues-tinged love song “In the Way.” Trumpets and bass join DiFranco’s ride on “Slide,” but it’s the guitar and brushed drums evoking a love out of focus. A sly bass rumbles through the emotionally evasive “Shrug”; an Afro-Cuban beat moves along the pacifist “Here For Now.” The sign of things to come, however, is “Evolve,” on which DiFranco stares her demons down alone but for her guitar. “I’m becoming transfixed with nature and my part in it,” she sings, “which just signifies that I’m just waking up.” Just so.