Ani DiFranco

So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter

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Upon opening the CD case of So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter, one is greeted with a picture of an automobile shop with a sign reading, "We Believe in God -- America -- Trucks." One imagines that Ani DiFranco and her fellow New Yorkers find a number of similar sentiments as their progressive folk show travels across small-town America. Despite such nativist impulses, DiFranco also finds a warm, responsive audience wherever she travels. Her first live album in five years, So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter documents the Righteous Babe in a number of settings, captured between September 2000 and April 2002. Like 1997's Living in Clip, one can't really hope to reproduce a DiFranco concert on a single disc. The performances are seamlessly sequenced, meaning one can put both discs in the CD changer, crank up the volume, and settle into the easy chair for a private show. Also like Living in Clip, DiFranco revels in boisterous crowds as she delivers fresh interpretations of familiar favorites (there's a minimal overlap of material between the two discs). The material on each disc falls under a different umbrella. The first, "Stray Cats," gathers a handful of set list standards, including "To the Teeth," "Napoleon," and "Swan Dive." The second disc, "Girls Singing Night," concentrates heavily on DiFranco's feminist leanings, with pieces like "Ain't That the Way," "Reckoning," and "Dilate." What pulls everything together, regardless of theme or which disc is in the player, is DiFranco's usual all-or-nothing vocals bolstered by her fabulous band. Even with familiar fare like "Letter to a John" and "Not a Pretty Girl," keyboardist Julie Wolf, bassist Jason Mercer, and drummer Daren Hahn kick the intensity level up another notch. One more layer of icing is added to this multi-tiered sound when the horn section cuts loose on pieces like "32 Flavors." The package is sweetened by the inclusion of a few rare pieces along with a new poem/song, "Self Evident," written in response to the attack on the World Trade Center. So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter captures DiFranco and friends in vibrant form and shouldn't be missed.

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