Music listeners will find it curious to hear such a rebellious, fiercely independent woman spout that she has “become more peaceful.”
It shows throughout “¿Which Side Are You On?,” a breezy batch of folk tunes that show many shades of Ani DiFranco’s personality.
Plenty of spots on “Which Side” show the mellowing DiFranco, including the standout opening blues burner, “Life Boat.”
Not gone, however, is the startling, in-your-face liberalism that is hardly a shock given the source. The title track borrows from a Dust Bowl-era folker popularized by Pete Seeger, but DiFranco impresses it with her own set of lyrics. She claims “feminism ain’t about women,” but singles out fathers and sons as to which side they, too, are on.
Saxophone bursts into “Amendment,” sounding like the only thing as unrestrained on the entire album as the Buffalo, N.Y.-born singer’s lack of shyness.
For her 17th album and first in three years, “¿Which Side Are You On?” is the sound of DiFranco aging.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.