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Ani DiFranco | So Much Shouting So Much Laughter | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop

Ani DiFranco

So Much Shouting/So Much Laughter (Righteous Babe)
by Jamie Kiffel

The not-a-pretty girl has grown up. This time, Ani DiFranco is armed with a brazen horn section, thick and tough syncopation, keyboards, and a face-forward delivery. She's no longer howling her tunes like a wronged and ratty cat. She's commanding them like a crackerjack army. The Ani who learned to sneer and growl across the backs of coffee shops and women's colleges has finally joined fists with the much calmer, experimental jazz and funk self she's presented over the past few albums. The result: Polished power. Packing emotion, this live double-disc does everything I've wanted DiFranco to do for years. It melds her grrl-power attitude with experienced musicianship and assured stage delivery, no longer shrinking under emotionally unstable songs like "Not a Pretty Girl" and "Letter to a John." Instead, DiFranco fires out the lines like the blacksmith who forged them, not like an injured punk girl growling dejectedly under their weight. While on Living in Clip, even DiFranco's most pointedly angry songs are often introduced with shy, apologetic talk, here, she never flinches. DiFranco claims that the second disc, "Girls Singing Night," plays more like a typical show than the first, "Stray Cats." Yet both feature her classic songs in stronger-spined incarnations than ever before. "32 Flavors" doesn't hesitate and whisper, but pops and punches with funky jazz style. "Not a Pretty Girl" is full of popping p's and no tears, just self-assurance, guitars, and smooth horns. With a total of 23 songs and three previously-unrecorded tracks, this is a record to thrill any DiFranco fan. No more a dirty girl howling across the strings and clawing her way out of The System, DiFranco has made it as a seasoned artist with a feminist message and a full barracks of very accomplished music behind her.


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