1999 (now eleven years or two decades ago!) was a very productive one for Ms.Di Franco.
She knocked out two albums. This second one is the better of the two by a considerable margin.
She has pretty much abandoned the folkie singer+guitar schtick for a much more sophisticated jazzy approach.
The songwriting is still very strong and direct, but the groove is funkier and more layered. She brings in some funk legends (Maceo Parker and Prince), and she clearly has a fast learning process as she gets the rhythms and syncopation working a treat (although it was not a huge leap for her standard style).
As a soundtrack to a hungover New Year’s Day this album has the contemplative, not-to-pushy vibe that I require. The noodly guitars and horn blasts are all sufficiently subtle and measured so as to not cause too much grief.
The title track, a post-Columbine anti-gun rant has a great line about moving to Canada, while Freakshow is almost as good a circus-life tune as the one from Ani’s buddy Rory McLeod (look out for a review of that in early 2012!).
File under: As dental as anything
I’ve had a very enjoyable past day repeatedly listening to this album from Ani.
This is Ms. DiFranco at her most endearing. There is a more gentle tone to this collection of songs. There is a welcome contrasts between the staccato guitar and warmer and smoother vocal approach.
This is thematically consistent album also, with a fair number of the tracks offering snippets from life on the road and/or the joys and tribulations of music (and the associated ‘industry’).
I continue to take almost embarrassing glee in the sheer simplicity (bordering on quaintness) of Ani’s encounter with 7-year-old Jason in 4th of July.
DiFranco’s caustic critiques of egotistical gigmates (Egos Like Hairdos) and record execs (Blood in the Boardroom) tread the right side of self-indulgent precipice. The latter track has a revenge motif that never fails to delight the estrogen-endowed majority at her gigs.
The performance poet track here (My IQ) is her finest.
There is further aspect that makes this album such a fave for me. Three tracks feature harmonica backing from the globe’s finest exponent thereof – Rory McLeod. He adds more heat to an already warm, cosy album.
File under: I recommend with walking (no puddles required)
So we reach the last from the Campbell stable (unless my beloved goes and buys another from the back catalogue in the near future).
This time Kate gives full credit to long-time collaborator Spooner Oldham. He has usually popped in for a track or three on most of her albums, but here he works much harder, contributing organ, piano and Wurlitzer on most of the tracks.
The organ might be a slight hint at the vibe here. No, she ain’t getting all 60s Beat. Rather Campbell is embracing her Baptist roots and singing praises to the Lord etc.
Now, I was quite accepting of such dubious lyrical content in the past, but only because it was upbeat, rapturous, gospel style.
Here it is too slow, too hymnal. It just isn’t my cup of tea, and I really struggle through an entire album of it.
Campbell does roll out the interesting rhetorical device of how would someone like Jesus be perceived by upright modern-day Christians (Would they Love Him down in Shreveport). Unfortunately, Rory McLeod does this much more effectively on his What would Jesus do number. And, of course, XTC blow them all away on Dear God.
File under: Too much God for my liking
Posted in C
Tagged album, album review, CD review, For the Living of These Days, Jesus, Kate Campbell, music, music review, Rory McLeod, Spooner Oldham, XTC