Ani DiFranco: Which Side Are You On?

Ani DiFranco
Which Side Are You On?
(Righteous Babe)

Churning out the albums at a regular pace since 1990, it’s been almost four years since fans have heard any new music from the queen of do-it-yourself music. Ani DiFranco returns with big bright plumage that matches the CD cover on Which Side Are You On?

“Which Side Are You On?” is a classic protest song made most famous by Pete Seeger. The song was written in 1931 by Florence Reece, wife of Harlan County, Kentucky union organizer Sam Reece. DiFranco, who is joined by Seeger on banjo and vocals,  takes the protest number, which rings just as true today as when it was written, and puts her spin and attitude towards it adding in menacing electric guitar, military marching drum beats, terse horns and DiFranco s beseeching vocals for others to join in the fight for what’s right.

Though the title track is clearly the highlight of Which Side Are You On? The 12–track album is filled with a nice diverse collection of songs that resonate.

“Life Boat” is the perfect opener with its laid-back acoustic grove over an electric cello with DiFranco grabbing your attention right away with the opening line “Every time I open my mouth I take off my clothes.”

The tempo picks up nicely with “Unworry” adding a bit of a funky flair with “Promiscuity,” and the electrified “If Yr Not,” which is one powerful piece at just 2:50. Taking things down to bare-bones acoustic, “Hearse” is one of the most touching songs DiFranco has ever written.

Over the last few albums, DiFranco missed the mark with this writer, but slowly reeled me back in with 2008’s Red Letter Year. Now, with the follow op Which Side Are You On? she is once again backing in her wheel house a folkie looking to make a change.