Ani DiFranco – Educated Guess

Ani DiFrancoEducated Guess (Righteous Babe)

Over the last 20 years, singer/songwriter/activist Ani DiFranco has built an impressive career from doing it her own way every chance she got. Her latest, Educated Guess, is a solo album to the fullest extent of the word. There are no other musicians or singers on the album. She recorded and mixed the record entirely by herself. And just like the rest of her 16 official albums, Educated Guess was released on her own label, Righteous Babe Records. The only times she lets others in on the act is with the album’s digital mastering and ambitious multimedia sleeve design (although she did contribute nice sharpie and white-out drawings).

DiFranco’s approach has always been to challenge the established structure and hegemony of the music industry and society at large. The breadth of her independent catalog alone is testament to this, but her lyrics are also often political or social in nature. In “The Interview,” a poem printed in the sleeve booklet, she writes: “how can one talk on / the role of politics in art / when art is / activism / and anyway / both are just a lifelong light / shining through a swinging prism.” Beyond the inclusion of a total of four short poems in the liner notes, Educated Guess also contains four spoken word tracks, all delivered as poetry and accompanied by interesting vocal and instrumental tracks.

Musically, Educated Guess is an inconsistent effort. The spoken word tracks break up rather than tie together the album, and the songs alternate sporadically between full and melodic (“Swim,” “Origami”) and sparse and rambling (“Animal,” “Bodily”). While this pattern showcases the wide array of song structures that DiFranco is able to compose and perform, it doesn’t make for a very involving listen.

Few musicians have released an album so solo so deep into their career, and DiFranco should be noted and credited for doing so. And as long as she continues to challenge us and herself, she will remain a bold inspiration for independent artists everywhere.

2 thoughts on “Ani DiFranco – Educated Guess”

  1. my wife got thsi a while back.. its better than a lot of her stuff

    not as annoyingly funk-y

  2. trainwreck – If you like any sans the funk (as do I) check out “Not a Pretty Girl”. “Dilate” or “Out of Range”, they are more accessible than her earlier “protest” music but not as noisy as her later records where she thought she discovered ska. Those 3 albums are all A+ material.

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