"I am a work in progress," appropriately announces Ani DiFranco on her debut album. Though her lyrics have the rambling style of free-form poetry and she sounds like she learned her spare, percussive style of guitar playing by listening to Suzanne Vega albums, she defines a distinct persona, that of a self-possessed, assertive woman in a tough, urban landscape who feels the need to lash out first (usually in reference to heterosexual romantic relationships) and then turn vulnerable. She justifies her chip-on-the-shoulder attitude with some telling observations and turns of phrase, even if individual lines are sometimes better than whole songs, and puts the songs across with her elastic phrasing and sheer conviction even when they're not really about much of anything. When she has a real subject, however, notably on the album's best composition, "Lost Woman Song," which concerns abortion, it all comes together and she displays a writing and performing talent that is as thrilling as it is affecting.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann