Hatchy needn't even ask me to postpone any punishment
Publisher: Shock Records
Sat, 28 October 2006
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Reprieve is the latest release from American folk singer/songwriter Ani Di Franco. With several albums already in her catalogue Ani has delivered yet another album full of her unique emotionally and politically fuelled music. Remaining true to her style and like many of her other albums, Reprieve showcases her highly talented musical abilities and competent acoustic guitar work.
A gunshot followed by the soulful thrums of a double bass and gently pushed piano keys stir your ears before Ani's beautiful soulful voice emerges to greet you as you enter this album. This is the first song, Hypnotize, one I initially took to be a reflective song about travelling through a 3rd world country, but as it moves along the intent is really about the cultural hypnosis of those easily sold by the trappings of the western world in such places.
None of the songs on Reprieve are very up-tempo or feature big rock drum beats; there is actually very little percussion on this album. As a result, the pieces come across as being a little delicate and fragile. In the Margins is one such example, a soft and brittle tune. Although brief, it manages to offer up some lovely imagery through the lyrics, opening with Ani staring into the eyes of a Bald Eagle as it stares intently back at her. Her home country, the United States of America has always been her greatest muse and it is a place she has often expressed much alienation with as well. As Ani croons her way through this song, the music resonates softly behind her before being punctured at one point by the tingling strains of a harpsichord. Its fancy, aristocratic notes are a delicate touch that contrasts against the dulcet tones of double bass and strummed guitar.
Ramadan, orange alert, everyone put on your gas mask - Millenium Theatre. No Ani Di Franco album in recent memory would be complete without a few songs about the Bush Administration. I liked this tune, as it is a pretty good protest song for the modern times. Punctuated by clever lyrics and overlaid with a few sound grabs and what appears to be some pre-recorded political speeches, it appropriately ends in a big burst of static interference. There is a brief but pointed reference to the New Orleans floods and the melting polar ice caps as well; Ani has definitely not lost her knack for writing music that makes you think.
This album is more than just a series of political and social rants. Unrequited, is a nice song about love and the immaturity of not fully comprehending the emotion in youth. Often the hearts we break and the damage left behind is never appreciated until we can comprehend it though wiser eyes. Shroud embraces themes of youthful acts of rebellion and the wisdom that puts them into the light when the mind and body mature 'I realised that a tattoo was no more permanent than I am'.
|"I wanna really really really wanna zigazig ha!" - most unexpected live cover song number 9 |
My favourite tune is the one that shares its name with the album itself, a song about the A bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Inspired by a trip taken to Hiroshima the song conveys the experience of standing at ground zero at the single most violent act of warfare in human history. Accompanied by a the sobbing strains of a cello and gently plucked acoustic guitar the music creates the mood and sadness that surrounds the day that started the nuclear arms race. Ani draws an interesting parallel to feminism in relation to this event, I'm not so sure how it relates to thousands of people being vaporised in an instant though!
Reprieve is a wonderfully organic album, much better than the brassier and more jazzed up previous release Evolve. Not one to be a shrinking violet, Ani's lyrics never shy from voicing her political dissent against the modern world, yet at the same time the album shows that amidst the protest there is a space for beautiful and raw songs of love and emotion to exist. To this point she shows she has lost no knack.
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This is definitely an album of music to make you think, reflect and look hard at the world around you and definitely one of Ani's best albums to date. One I thoroughly enjoyed.