# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Ani DiFranco - Binary

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 12 / 8 / 2017

Ani DiFranco - Binary
Label: Righteous Babe
Format: CD


Essential new album from New York State-based singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco, which is by a distance the most ambitious and inspiring record to have been released this year

As Ani DiFranco prepares to release 'Binary', her twentieth album, she can be as confident as any artist that it will be enthusiastically recieved by the devoted fanbase she has built up over a career spent determinedly playing by her own rules. Those fans will wonder, however, why their hero has never quite built up the reputation to match their devotion. Despite a long and proud list of classic albums, she rarely crops up on those 'greatest album ever' polls. That's partly because she has always remained proudly independent - and not just by continuing to release all her albums on her own Righteous Babe label. Yet, anyone who has seen her play live knows that to generate the kind of rapt awe she does requires something extra special. Is 'Binary' an album to enthuse only those already converted to DiFranco's work? Or is it an album for anyone who's remained in the dark over the quarter-century she has been releasing albums? Absolutely, the latter. While DiFranco's recent work has (arguably) seen her retreat into a more modest, contained style (the funk workouts that populated earlier albums largely jettisoned in favour of subtle minimalism), this record sees her reaching for her most ambitious palate of sounds yet. While the overall mood of the record is jazz-tinged, it never feels pleased with itself - every track bristles with intensity and the feeling that something unexpected is just around the corner. Longstanding collaborators like Todd Sickafoose and Maceo Parker (once of Parliament and Funkadelic) are on consistently inspired form throughout. But the star of the show is always DiFranco - you sense that her fellow musicians knew she was making something special and raised their own games accordingly. If the album has an abiding theme, it is of the responsibililty of DiFranco's generation to pass on a better world to their children. Indeed, the album concludes with the sentiment "I got kids, and so do my friends/It'll never be our world again". But I think DiFranco is selling herself short - whether it is emphasising the bravery that is required for pacifism ("There is nothing harder than to stop in the middle of a battle and say you're sorry") or pleading for a woman's right to choose ("You get to run the world in your special way…I must insist you leave this one thing to me"), DiFranco has never had so many novel ways of making such important points. The album was written before last year's Presidential election. The anger that characterised that campaign runs through the record, but the abiding theme is hope - without the despair that must have followed the result. For Americans, this will be a record to cling to in disturbing times. For British listeners, still unsure just how much of a calamity Brexit will be, the album comes at a strange time - just as Britain seemed poised to throw itself off a cliff, we surprised ourselves with one of the biggest election upsets of all time. Yet, despite the about-turns out politics is making, on either side of the Atlantic, 'Binary' is a record that feels like it will catch the mood. 'Binary' is, by a distance, the most ambitious and inspiring record to have been released this year. It doesn't matter if you currently have nineteen DiFranco albums on your shelves or none, you absolutely need to make space for this one. A classic.

Track Listing:-
1 Binary
2 Pacifist's Lament
3 Zizzing
4 Play God
5 Alrighty
6 Telepathic
7 Even More
8 Spider
9 Sasquatch
10 Terrifying Sight
11 Deferred Gratification

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