235. Ani DiFranco – “Little Plastic Castle”

I have a pretty simplistic view of the album creation process (as regular readers may have already adjudged).

I like to think that the final album running order reflects the sequence in which the tracks were written and recorded.

If that were the case with this album, then something substantial happened about two-thirds of the way through. 

The front half of this album is DiFranco at her poppiest and most adept.  The title track, Gravel and As Is are all the logical progression from her earlier work, mining the agit-folk vein but with a real ear for catchiness and sing-along-ability.

She then delivers perhaps her finest moment, the plaintive chronicle of life with a downward spiralling lover, The Little Girls:

More gems follow including Loom and Pixie. Then it all gets schizophrenic on the listener.

The album gets all noodly and experimental (especially on the final three tracks). In come the samples, the indulgent basslines, the horns.  Actually, the video clip above shows where they were going.  The earlier immediacy and impact gets swamped by the musicality and showwomanship. 

This transformation is astounding and concerning, although not enough to substantially alter my view that this is a very good album. Indeed, I’d never even noticed the final tracks before…    

File under: Not completely impervious to attack

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