Admittedly introverted in real life, the prolific Ani DiFranco communicates via song and, as she says in her song “This Bouquet”: “Got a garden of songs/Where I grow all my thoughts…Maybe it’s okay that I am speechless/Cuz I picked you this bouquet.” The song is one of only a few tracks on her seventh album, Not A Pretty Girl, that remain faithful to DiFranco’s folk roots. The album all but abandons her rootsy past—it’s as if folk was simply a vehicle to her final destination. While it’s essentially a one-woman show (DiFranco plays every instrument on every track, accompanied only by drummer Andy Stochansky), the album was, at the time, the folksinger’s most mainstream effort. Yet DiFranco was as subversive as ever, challenging capital punishment on the dark “Crime For Crime” and the media on the title track: “Every time I say something they find hard to hear/They chalk it up to my anger and never to their own fear.” “The Million You Never Made” is an angry “fuck you” to those in the industry who hoped to milk the cash cow, while “Light Of Some Kind” finds DiFranco still grappling with bisexuality and social boundaries (“I still think of you as my boyfriend…Maybe you should follow my example/And go meet yourself a really nice girl”). Not only is Not A Pretty Girl DiFranco’s most cohesive studio release to date, it might also be one of the most emotionally powerful albums of all time.
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