Album Review: Ani DiFranco – Revolutionary Love

‘Yeah, my inner world is fragile
and the outer world is dumb
and this whole thing is such a hassle
won’t you wake me when it’s done?’

‘Simultaneously’ by Ani DiFranco, from the album Revolutionary Love (January 2021).

Personally, I always find it intriguing when a musical artist is difficult to pin down into one specific genre. The American singer-songwriter, Ani DiFranco, appears to tick many ‘boxes’ with her musical style, including definite examples of both folk rock and alternative rock, although her unique style appears to have extracted inspiration from multiple influences across the past decades, in which she has been both writing and performing music.

By her own definition in a recent interview with Sarah McCammon on the National Public Radio website, Ani’s latest album, Revolutionary Love, ‘explores the idea of approaching our adversaries with compassion’, extolling the philosophy of sending healing, positive love/thoughts to people who perhaps might not return the favour back towards us. The eleven tracks on Revolutionary Love each express this compassionate sentiment, achieving their goals via different musical tempos. 

The opening title track is mellow and laid-back;  accompanied with minimal percussion, a cool, funky bassline, some shimmering background organ that seems to float on the breeze and light guitar riffs which immediately transport the mind towards a tropical beach; cocktail in hand, as we listen to Ani’s impassioned vocals blending everything together.

Many of the tracks, such as ‘Bad Dream’, ‘Shrinking Violet’ and ‘Metropolis’ repeat this lilting, mellow style; again effortlessly producing the calm, mental visualisation of sand, sea and cocktails. 

Other tracks, such as ‘Contagious’ offer a jazzy, Latin beat that would feel very much at home in any New Orleans venue. 

For me, the standout track on this delightful album is ‘Simultaneously’. An acoustic guitar backed by woodwind instruments and a jazzy, electric piano create the introduction for Ani’s vocals to appear with some profound lyrics. Once the addictive bassline appears, accompanied by percussion instruments, we’re utterly hooked. 

No instrument outshines any other with the net result being harmonious, acoustic balance.  Ani’s vocals are clear and easily heard against the delicious cocktail of musical ingredients surrounding her. The lyrics are poignant and easily digested, aided by that laid-back rhythm that just can’t help itself from transporting us towards further appealing coastlines, more cocktails and some well-earned, philosophical relaxation.

Each song encourages us not to respond to situations with negativity, or anger. Each lyrical line seeks to allow us peaceful insight into why this form of expression can be manifested as a positive form of ‘revolutionary love’, whereby negative emotions, such as anger, aren’t fuelled, but merely left to fizzle out and disappear.

A stunning and beautiful album. 

‘I live in two different worlds
simultaneously,
the one where we are fractured
and the one where we are free.
Freedom requires safety.
Freedom requires trust.
Freedom requires balance
in the equation of us’.

‘Simultaneously’ by Ani DiFranco, from the album Revolutionary Love (January 2021).

Revolutionary Love is available now on double 12″ vinyl, CD and digital download via Bandcamp.

Review by Kev Milsom
anidifranco.com

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