Playing gigs since the age of 10, and having written nearly 100 songs by the age of 18 - Ani Difranco started out selling copies of a tape she'd made, at gigs. And rather than progress to a record label, she started her own instead, named 'Righteous Babe' records.
And that's pretty much where we find DiFranco in 1990 - aged 19/20, and putting together a collection of the better of those songs she'd been writing since the age of 14. What kind of songs are they? Well basically, folky singer-songwriter type songs, all played by DiFranco, just vocals and guitar. There are no other musicians on this album as far I know, just her.
How did she come to write so many songs? Well, with folk songs, you write about what surrounds you, so DiFranco's songs are small and intimate - she's not trying to take on the world, she's not making any broad sweeping statements, just writing about her observations and her life.
I love folk music, but it covers a broad range of styles. With some singers, the lyrics are all-important and the music seems like some kind of afterthought. Others follow in Dylan's footsteps or try to be like Joni Mitchell, and miss the point entirely. Some of them can barely sing, they just want their music to sound 'real', in contrast to the manufactured pop sounds they hear.
One of the first things I noticed listening to this album, is how strong DiFranco's voice is, how it effortlessly carries a melody, and moves from soft and tender to strong and passionate. The opening song "Both Hands" has a nervous anxious energy, and many of the songs here are likewise. The guitar playing is fast and melodic, always melodic in fact.
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning
(blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews