Ani DiFranco’s Reprieve is a seamless concept album interweaving the perfect synergy of politics, heart, and poetry. All 13 tracks segue from one to the next, not only in context, but in musicianship as well. Unsurprisingly, Reprieve falls into the folk genre that is, by default, DiFranco. This time around, however, the guitars are accompanied by what seems to be an affinity for synthesizers – an ironic formula for the little folksinger that’s definitely ear candy for all of us. The digital tinkering is most notable in “Millenium Theatre,” where DiFranco chronicles the current state of the union as she sees it. The track, which was written months before Hurricane Katrina, was uncannily prophetic in the language of its finale: “patriarchy’s realigned / while the ice caps melt / and New Orleans bides her time…” DiFranco’s unapologetic assault on social/political accountability also comes in the form of “Decree,” “A Spade,” and the staple spoken-word track, “Reprieve.”
“Shroud” bridges the gap between politics and heart as DiFranco elaborates on liberating herself from social conformity. The remaining eight tracks belong to the heart (“Nicotine’s” sultriness is a must-hear), and the album closes with “Reprise” – a punning finale that’s just as graceful and calculated as the rest of the recording. The Righteous Babe herself has delivered once again.