Some Ani DiFranco fans seem unwilling to let her evolve in either her music or her personal life, both of which have been inextricably intertwined in her music. On one of the intro tracks to '97's Living in Clip, she describes fans (known as "Righteous Babes," from the name of her self-owned independent record label) as gals who "got their panties on a little too tight," disapproving of her shift away from her more politically oriented music of the early '90s.
But DiFranco's new album, the live 2-CD set So Much Shouting/So Much Laughter, may encourage these fans to loosen their undergarments. The discs span shows from 2000 to 2002, in which she traveled with a six-person band (including a rocking horn section). The discs contain a smattering of new arrangements of older tunes, funkier renditions of more recent songs, and three new tracks, including the arresting "Self Evident," a slam-poetry-style piece about 9/11 that manages to be both reverent and moving while still spewing that antigovernment and anticorporate sentiment that is her trademark: "You can keep the Pentagon/You can keep the propaganda/You can keep each and every TV/That's been trying to convince me/To participate in some high-school punk's plan to perpetuate retribution." This live version of the performance is the only one she will ever record, and is only available on this disc -- a song which has already been covered by Chuck D side project The Impossebulls.
True to their titles -- Disc 1 is called "Stray Cats" and Disc 2 "Girls' Singing Night" -- the first record includes more eclectic jams, while the second showcases more of DiFranco's introspective, self-referential music ("Gratitude," "Dilate," "Not a Pretty Girl"). The collaboration between DiFranco and her keyboardist/accordion-mistress, East Bay resident Julie Wolf, on many of the "Girls' Singing Night" tracks should keep those Righteous Babes swooning.
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