By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The goddess is in
If Jewel is the traditional singer/songwriter cast as a Hollywood prom queen, Ani DiFranco is "Carrie," full of rage and magic and dangerous to all that's bland and popular. She's the folk singer for folks who hate folk singers, a tiny, trash-talking bundle of lust, pride, and intelligence, ripping through ballads and diatribes with equal intensity, and offering no apologies to those who don't get it.
She has often been defined by the heroine-worship scene that flows around her; the more her star rises, the less people seem to talk about the music. The fact that her sexual identity is fluid ignites controversy among those who would have her pick a side of the fence. If she has a conversation on CNN, the whiny indie-credibility debate that dogs her every promotional move kicks in. And when she points out that her independent status allows her to keep more profits per unit on her albums than many of the music industry's biggest stars, she is cast as careerist by those who would like to rectify that situation by signing her to a major label.
But throughout her evolution--eight albums released on her own Righteous Babe Records and years of relentless touring--she has remained unique and independent despite the discomfort of the increasingly microscopic inspection. Her music has retained its radical mix of bare-chested emotion and wry, incendiary wit, but most of all her songwriting remains tough and honest, whether she's speaking about herself, her fans, or life's challenges and charms.
Her latest album, the ferocious double-live Living In Clip, brings the energy and humor of her show to life and documents her many moods in a way that's immediate and compelling. Attention to the album has accompanied a general rise in her public persona this past year, as she's appeared in publications as diverse as Spin, Forbes, and Time. More people clearly are catching on, with as many jumping on the bandwagon out of curiosity as from solidarity. But when she's onstage--regardless of the audience--the goddess is in, handily thrashing all expectations of how a folk singer should look, play, sound, and act.
Ani DiFranco will be at Deep Ellum Live Sunday, November 16.