On her relatively spare sixth album (which features only one other musician, percussionist/vocalist Andy Stochansky, and, on one song, singer Kate Fenner), Ani DiFranco takes on a few expected topics, such as abortion ("Tiptoe"), capital punishment ("Crime for Crime"), and why she isn't on a major label ("The Million You Never Made"). But much of the disc is given over to introspective ruminations on personal life and love. As usual, the singer is not shy (despite a song of that title) about offering criticism of the person or persons she's addressing, but she is also self-critical and even, on "Sorry I Am," apologetic. The songs do not add up to the complete story of a relationship, but there are some deeply felt portraits here, especially "Light of Some Kind," in which the singer seems to be confessing to a man that she has been unfaithful to him with a woman. As usual, the imagery is urban and gritty; DiFranco is the kind of writer who likes to tell you that she's got last night's underwear in her back pocket as she rides home on the subway on the afternoon following an assignation. But the sometimes messy details are in the service of her view of reality, an unflinching one in which everything can be faced, even the songwriter's emotional torment.
Not a Pretty Girl Review
by William Ruhlmann