ani difranco Evolve (Righteous Babe) Rating: Nnn Rating: NNN
I've never been impressed by Ani DiFranco's evolution from crazy-haired steel string politico-folkie into jam-happy funkster. I miss the raw honesty of her earliest stripped-down grrrl-'n'-guitar tracks. That said, her latest opus, Evolve, strikes a balance between those tooth-and-claw acoustic confessionals and the souped-up, noodly ersatz jazz experimentation she's been dabbling in lately. The beautifully packaged disc's centrepiece is Serpentine, 10 and a half minutes of semi-sung agitprop poetry over resonant fingerpicked guitar. Sure, there's some irksome scatting elsewhere on the album, but DiFranco pulls off most of Evolve's defiant genre-fuck, from Latin jazz to old-timey blues, with aplomb.