I'm too old for Ani DiFranco, so let's just say I hope my daughter
turns out this feisty and smart. I hope when she's 18 she'll have
the confidence to think about all the guys who won't leave her be
and conclude: "Smile pretty and watch your back." And I hope when
she's 25 she'll to realize that "We lose sight of everything when
we have to keep checking our backs." Both lines are among the many
that stand out from Living in Clip (Righteous Babe),
a live double-CD that draws
liberally on her formative folk-punk years for those who only
caught on with 1996's Dilate. Fronting a loose-limbed
bass-and-drums duo, DiFranco is never boring; she doesn't rock, exactly, but
she sure hops around a lot. And I think her big nose is cute.
That Dog's Anna Waronker comes with a daunting L.A. pedigree--her dad is a fabled record exec and two sidewomen are daughters of Coltrane bassist Charlie Haden. These connections can't have hurt when she was shopping for a contract, but they're one reason 1995's winsome Totally Crushed Out went almost unnoticed by gatekeepers who always assume the worst. The new Retreat From the Sun (DGC) isn't quite as charming. But Waronker's eye for the nascent relationship and ear for the dissonant hook add up to a romantic pop that radiates credibility in a cynical world.
Like Taj Mahal, young black bluesman Corey Harris is an adept of the National steel-bodied guitar and a master of several different voices. He's also a Delta revisionist whose residency in New Orleans taught him how to play up the rhythmic variety of the style. And on Fish Ain't Bitin' (Alligator), he writes songs that sound very old until you heed the lyrics, which aren't.
Playboy, Apr. 1997