Ani DiFranco
So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter


5.0
classic

Review

by OrbDragon USER (34 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 8 replies | 4,517 views


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist


Ani DiFranco has become my favorite songwriter in a very short period of time, and this is her most recent live album. She is known for her more stripped live-performances, with just her guitar...but in this album her backing band is Drums&Tuba, a jazz ensemble that is amazingly tight and perfectly fits Ani's unique musical style. Ani DiFranco is about as talented as they can get...her guitar sound and vocal style are both amazing and unique, her lyrics are clever and brutally honest and she is an amazing all-round musician. But her best asset is her live-performance, which is far more energetic than most singer songwriters (both male and female). She is great in re-inventing her own tracks, and find that balance. Folk. Jazz. Soul. Blues. Rock. Funk. Latin. Her music stands at the barriers of all these musical styles.

This is a live album, two discs full of great music. In contrast to her other live material is this record more focussed on the musical aspect...without downplaying the emotional honesty that Ani conveys in her songs.

Disc 1: Stray Cat

1. Swan Dive
This is a great opening track with a cool riff that consists of a really fast strum and a fingerpicking melody. The chorus is melodic in a fast-paced 3/4 tempo...with nice complementary melodies from the trumpet and trombone players. The lyrics seem to be about how Ani decided to become an independant artist/labelrunner. 4.5/5

2. Letter To A John/Tamburitza Lingua
This is another one of Ani's strengths...effortlessly she can mash older songs with newer ones to form one jam-sessionish track. Letter To A John derives more to her folky side...and has a pretty catchy guitar riff. Tamburitza is a very lyrical track, with more jazziness than the first part of the song. 4/5

3. Grey
Grey is a very slow paced, depressing, heartfelt song with a simplistic riff. No clever metaphors or preaching about political issues here, the emphasis of the song lies with raw emotion. I love what the brass section does to the chorus, creating gorgeous layers of melodies. The piano also gives it a great touch, especially near the end with the lil' solo's. The most beautiful lyric comes in the second verse: "You walk through my walls, like a ghost on TV, you penetrate me". 5/5

4. Cradle & All
Another catchy song with a catchy riff. The lyrics in the chorus are very easily sung along. Ani does this cool little riff near the end, and repeats is a few times. 4/5

5. Whatallisnice
In this song the trumpet and trombone once again stand out...and Ani's voice really has alot of range here. Beautiful, powerful and melodic is how this track is described. Ani sings with a weird microphone effect at one point, which I don't really find fitting but, hey...still a good track. 4/5

6. Whathowwhenwhere
Another jazzy track that has some very accessible lyrics. The band and Ani really complement one another well here during those little acoustic riffs Ani plays. Some cool jazzy solo's are the cream of the crop. 4/5

7. To The Teeth
This is another political song, about gun control in America mostly. For the most part it's just Ani and her geetar, but the band backs her up in the outro. A very folky track. 4/5

8. Revelling
This is an amazing, freeflowing jazz/soul track. Very vocally driven, and that soothing saxophone really hits the spot. Very laidback, and melodic...Ani really excels in her singing here. 4.5/5

9. Napoleon
This is one of the lesser tracks on the record. I think the verses are okay, but the chorus is a bit bland. But still listenable enough not to skip for me. 3/5

10. Shrug
This is a gorgeous lounge jazz-influenced track, where the brass section really gives the melody lots of depth. Especially the chorus, wow. I love that intro with the trombone and piano and it goes into the verse with the soothing bass and percussion comin' in. It's just a great track overall....really easy listening. 4.5/5

11. Welcome To:
This is another decent track, that is a bit more leaned to Ani's folky side. The verses are very stripped, and the chorus very arranged...some great dynamic changes throughout the song. I love the guitar work...how Ani uses odd chords and still give the melody beauty and memorable. 3.5/5

Disc 2: Girls Singing Night

1. Comes A Time
This is short interlude where you hear some guy talking...nothing worthy of giving a grade.

2. Ain't That The Way
This is a very tight track, with some amazing brass and flute melodies to go along that funky riff Ani plays. She actually raps in the verses of this song...another thing she can do well. It's a very catchy track, that also has a jamsession-ish feel to it. Ani shows what a great singer she is...with that powerful yelp she lets out after the chorus part with just the drums. 4.5/5

3. Dilate
This is an amazing folk song...especially the lyrics. At one point she sings "every song has a you, a you that a singer sings to, and maybe you're it this time". In this songs she sings to her fans about her life as an international acclaimed musician, and how she approaches life by her terms. It's just a great dead honest song. 4.5/5

4. Gratitude
This is one of my favorite songs. It's very stripped down, and she sings about a very personal experience in her life, where she doesn't give in to a compromise by some guy to sleep with him after giving her shelter. This song is true girl power in my opinion. Amazing how the clarinet player creates atmosphere in this song...catches the mood perfectly. It's sung in just a real, shameless way...it's just brave in my opinion to openly sing about an experience like this. Beautiful stuff. 5/5

5. Rock Paper Scissors
This is another great piano driven track, with clever lyrics and Joni Mitchell-esque rhythm playing. Ani really knows how to use her voice well to asset the particular style she is playing. In Dilate she sings like folk should be sung by her, very cleanly...while in this track she sings with that deep soul timbre that lots of great jazz singers also use. I can't believe this is live...it sounds way too good. 4.5/5

6. 32 Flavors
This track was written during Ani's more folky period, but this version has more of an urban soul vibe. It's got a really melancholic riff, with some cool brass melodies here and there. Another good track that just moseys along. 4/5

7. Loom/Pulse
Two songs from "Little Plastic Castle" into one. This is simply the best thing ever...almost. It starts out with a pretty intense riff with Ani singing the opening lyrics to "Loom". Then the offbeat-drum loop comes in and BAM! It goes into this great salsa-influenced track that just unquestionably owns the album version. The trumpet solo's are great and add alot....everything flows well. The lyrics are incredible in both parts. After the Loom-part it goes into this awesome jam session part with a very cool saxophone solo. Ani sings/speaks the lyrics to pulse on the salsa-beat and loungy bassline as the dynamics of the song fade out a bit. At one point Ani almost breaks into laughter when she sings one of the lines. The song builds up again to the Loom-part eventually with the cool whaguite guitars and trumpets solo...until it ends. Awesome! 5/5

8. Not A Pretty Girl
This version of Not A Pretty Girl is better than the album version in my opinion. The lyrics are veru easy to sing along, and the guitar riff is gorgeous...the brass section really fills it up in the chorus. 4.5/5

9. Self Evident
This is a 9-minute jam track and a poem Ani wrote about the September 11th attacks. I personally like this track, but I tend to skip it alot because I'm usually more in the mood more some music...listening to preaching gets old after 3 or 4 listens. I do like how the band complements Ani's words with some ambient melodies. 4/5

10. Reckoning
A beautiful stripped down acoustic track with Ani's vocals and guitar melodies being the main focus. I love it how at one point the clarinet and brass come in and complement...gorgeous stuff. 4.5/5

11. My I.Q.
In this track Ani shows off her MIC-skills . It's a really upbeat hip-hop influenced track, with Ani singing (or rapping) about how ridiculously useless IQ-tests are...or something like that. It's a nice change from the other tracks...plus this track is the perfect interlude from the amazingly AMAZING version of Jukebox afterwards. 4/5

12. Jukebox
This track is the most amazing part of this entire live-cd. It's pretty technical. It starts out with an intense drum beat, a simple fretting bassline, jazzy keys and brass melodies, and then Ani comes in with a guitar riff until the drummer chokes the cymbal. She repeats the riff along with the drum fills and bass three more times with short pauses inbetween. The fourth time (the actual verse) she extends the riff a with with a very funky edge as she starts rapping the lyrics. Awesome! The chorus is amazing, with an exodus of brass, organs...Ani's great vocals...she gives the full repetoire of her abilities there. In the second part of the chorus she plays another funky riff, until it explodes into the verse again. But instead of the vocals coming in right away...the second verse starts with a short jazzy saxophone solo. It goes into another amazing part that ends with Ani letting out an amazing scream. After this it goes totally into jazzy part with trumpet solo's all over the place. The whole track is just full of lots of little twists...it has a huge climax, amazing musicianship...it's one of those things that made you wish you'd seen it live. It's tight as ****. As far as musicianship goes...this is the peak of this record. 10/10

13. You Had Time
After the dynamic version of Jukebox, the album ends with this beautiful, sentimental 'goodbye' song. The piano intro beautiful, and the lyrics are very touching. Gorgeous melodies throughout the song, really the perfect song to end a concert with...and this record too. 4.5/5

This record is just breathtaking. If you are new to Ani DiFranco and her music, and you want to check out her material...this will be your puppy. It's a great summary of all the music she has made over the years, and frankly, it's better because it's live. Ani is one of the few artists that's better live than in the studio, and if this live cd ain't proof...I dunno what is. It's hard not to like what Ani DiFranco does here, no matter what musical style you prefer listening to.

rating: 5/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Bartender
Emeritus
March 28th 2004


826 Comments


I love your reviews, they're always really descriptive. I've never heard Ani DiFranco, but I'll come back when I have..

Tomahawk
March 28th 2004


124 Comments


Great review. I haven't heard much Ani, but I like what I have heard. If I see this CD somewhere, I'll definitely pick it up.

OrbDragon
April 1st 2004


152 Comments


^^^
It might take awhile to grow, especially "Stray Cats". "Girls Singing Night" is just mindblowing...so even if you don't like "Stray Cats", the second disc will be worth paying for.

myiaa
April 1st 2004


3 Comments


Brilliant review, Ani DiFranco is amazing. But I'm annoyed now because you've made me really want to buy it and I have no money :mad ! I've downloaded some live Ani tracks and I really like them, so I'm going to have to get this sometime.

righteous_babe
June 12th 2004


1 Comments


the man speaking before Aint That The Way is Utah Phillips quoting part of the Mario Savio freedom speech.
Good review by the way this was the first Ani album i bought.

gaslight
January 16th 2006


46 Comments


Ani DiFranco is amazing, same goes for these CDs.
Borrowed this album off a friend in high school, have a bunch more of her albums now. Really nice to hear how well her songs come across in a different musical setting, definately someone I have to see live one day. I dunno if I will though, I remember reading that she is having to take a very long time off of playing because of tendonitis or something?

Kage
February 3rd 2006


1173 Comments


I'm absolutely in love with Ani DiFranco. Her live stuff is better than her recordings, honestly.

Cravinov13
June 29th 2007


3854 Comments


I finally listened to this album, both discs, in one sitting and I love it. :p



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