#SRCZ Album Review // Ani Di Franco – Allergic To Water
It goes without saying that a new album from Ani Di Franco is well worth hearing. In the course of a career that spans nearly 25 years she has released a near perfect cycle of albums on a roughly yearly basis full of essential music that shoots happily under the radar of most listeners.
Released, as ever, via her own independent label Righteous Babe Records, Allergic To Water is her twentieth studio album and it shows no sign of the pool of inspiration running dry. As with her later albums, the music on Allergic To Water is a more subtle show of strength than on her more consciously guerrilla folk styled early albums. Such subtleties have been developing since her albums of the early nougties (or, whatever you call that decade!) and with each passing album there is a certain refinement.
Allergic To Water is, accordingly, an album that will tail your thoughts subconsciously rather than hit you with razor edged guitar solos. Of course, Ani Di Franco is no stranger to a guitar and the sensitive playing here is that of a musician with enough mastery of her instrument that there is no need to show off. As has been said often, the words and emotions are what make an album from Di Franco truly worth the journey.
Simply put, the listening experience of any record the lil’ folk singer is one that is always better accompanied by the always elegant booklet. The digital revolution may well be in full swing, but it’s the physical version of her album that you’ll want. Not only that, you’re supporting an independent artist in the days when looking after the independent’s is more essential than it’s ever been.
But in terms of songs, the twelve here are subtle yet bewitchingly intimate. The sound is rarely frenetic yet the wise intimacy of songs as title track Allergic To Water are undeniably ear catching. Opener Dithering yields the memorable line ‘I got a database behind my face…’ and is another great opening track from the artist. Woe Be Gone is another highlight, some light orchestration adding immensely to its power. It’s one of those songs that Di Franco should trademark the very ethos of, intimate in delivery yet pregnant in messages vital to life.
The song asks at one point for you to ‘raise your hand if you’re at peace’ and although the singer herself was no doubt busy with her guitar at the time, it’s certainly something she should have done herself. It draws comparison with previous album track If Yr Not, and almost seems to answer it as a rhetorical companion piece in many ways. It makes you realise that there is indeed a lot of wisdom to yield from listening to an Ani D record.
It’s hard to fault an album that sounds so off the cuff yet perfectly formed. It’s probably one of her best… but that’s what we say every album. Instead we’ll just say this:
Check Out: ‘Genie’, ‘Woe Be Gone’, ‘Rainy Parade’
Allergic To Water is released via Righteous Babe on November 4th 2014.
(Reviewed by Sebastian Gahan)