Red Let-down Year

by John Sand

Ani DiFranco has been making angry chick music since… well, since there have been angry, indie chicks to nod their heads, sing along and avoid showering in the spirit of misanthropy. Her someteenth (anywhere from eighteenth to twenty-first, depending on how you count them) album “Red Letter Year” is set to debut on September 30th. “Red Letter Year” shows us a new side to DiFranco. First, it is more “polished” than most of her previous work. Though this sounds good, it detracts from the raw angst that draws most of her fans. The album is a reflection on her recent motherhood and committed-partnership life. Instead of the pissed-off rocker we see in albums like “Dilate,” we are confronted with a woman looking to explore the beauty in the world and express appreciation for a blessed life. Many of the songs are amusing in their way, but her lyrics often play too closely to the line between emotive self-expression and trite mumblings. The track “Present/Infant” whispers, “I’ve got myself a new mantra; it says, ‘don’t forget to have a good time.'” Eesh. We can’t write the entire album off, though, because most of the tracks feature the intricate picking DiFranco has mastered after almost twenty years of singing and song-writing. When judged in comparison to her previous, proliferative discography, the album is a disappointment on most fronts. If you’re looking to satisfy your aching for some angst, it’s best to check the vintage, because Ani’s touting peace this time around.