Album review: Ani DiFranco's “¿Which Side Are You On?”
For those who have been complaining that there are no protest songs in pop music right now, ’90s icon Ani DiFranco serves up a well-meaning but predictable specimen in the title song to her new studio album. With a contribution from activist folkie Pete Seeger, a marching snare-drum beat and calls for an end to financial corruption, why not cut to the chase and cull the lyrics from an Occupy pamphlet instead?
Her heart might be in the right place but it’s better served by her nuanced, questioning mind in other songs. DiFranco makes a reasoned and witty argument for the benefits of “Promiscuity,” comparing it to globe-trotting. She sings “some of us like to stick close to home; and some of us are Columbus. What can I say?”
Some of DiFranco’s attempts to be baldly political hit their mark. “Amendment,” a plea for laws that protect women’s rights, is split between a poisonous guitar line and a looser, more ponderous musical set that gives the defiant lyrics their deserved depth. DiFranco will never stop fighting and as long as she keeps some grace in her boxing stance, it shouldn’t be any other way.
“¿Which Side Are You On?”
Two and a half stars (Out of four)
— Margaret Wappler