Evolve by Ani DiFranco

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Evolve by Ani DiFranco
Evolve by Ani DiFranco

Album Released: 2003

Evolve ::: Artwork

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1.Promised Land4:27
2.In The Way5:17
5.O My My3:44
9.Here For Now3:09
10.Second Intermission3:51
12.Welcome To:4:54


Evolve is aptly named. Any talk of DiFranco's music taking a sudden left turn here, or at any point in her recording career so far, would ignore the fact she's always been moving forwards with her music, always 'evolving'.

That kind of progress has taken DiFranco's music away from her original sound of voice and guitar, towards an album that encompasses melodica, organ, rhodes piano, clavinet, saxophones, clarinets, flute, bass, drums, three trumpets, and a flugelhorn. This is the first full realisation of her sound leaning more towards Jazz than Folk.

The opening lyric You're taking up lots of space, along with the quite startling style of "Promised Land", is both angry and seductive. The swirling Jazz patterns sound utterly modern and forceful, it's a full and powerful sound. And there are more lyrics revealing potential troubles in the land of Ani DiFranco on "Icarus" - Seems like you just started noticing how noticeably bad things really are - there's a pissed-off nature to the sound of her voice that suits the lyrics, and it's backed up by evocative brassy Jazz sounds.

"Slide" has the structure and feel of 'old Ani', but is presented using her new modern sound. So it retains elements of both old and new, and comes across as one of the best things she's ever done. Then the album switches back to Jazz for "O My My", and never before has she sounded so convincing using Jazz arrangements - it's no throwback, it's her own representation, her use of certain sounds and structures filtered through her own creative vision.

Incongruously, the title song lacks the Jazz-inspired sound and is back to just DiFranco plus voice, although she still sounds pissed-off at everyone and everything with I'm just trying to evolve as the key lyric. Then there's the 10-minute "Serpentine" - a startling and wondrous piece, with oh so many words - politics and words, and voice and guitar. Everything is stripped right back, the guitar functions as punctuation to her voice and message, her vocal rhythms struggle to contain what she has to say, she goes from soft whisper to pissed-off angry near-shouting.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)