Few indie artists or "mainstream" artists, for that matter can rival the body of work of radical folkster Ani DiFranco. Without the backing of a major label or seeking itDiFranco has gone her own way at every fork in the road and proven herself to be an inspiring creative force.
With her provocative views, sardonic wit, and poetic acumen, she's an antiestablishment jugular biter with a sweet smile. Unfortunately, Educated Guess will likely be a mild disappointment to DiFranco 's legion of faithful supporters. About as solo as an album can be -- DiFranco wrote, played, sang, and produced everything -- it's a tribute to her talent and industry.
But DiFranco is a rare -- and authentic -- stylist who has set the bar very high for herself and, compared with landmark discs like Not a Pretty Girl and the live So Much Shouting, So Much LaughterEducated Guess comes off as a little uninspiring.
Yes, the canny wordsmithing and busy guitar work are here: proficiency of execution is not the problem. But from a listener's point of view, many of the tracks bog down. Composition convolutions turn in on themselves rather than shoot upward and outward. Ani has taken her penchant for spastic rhythm collages to the farthest point of the pendulum swing at Ani DiFranco - Educated Guess cost of melody and flow.
If that's the record DiFranco wanted to make, who can dispute her right to do so? But whether that will translate to a keen collective-audience ear is another matter.
In a sense, DiFranco is the consummate musical experimentalist, and that's a hit-and-miss game. But it's also the key to greener pastures, new ideas, and fresh Mona Lisa - Jim Reeves - The Mellow Magic Of Jim Reeves territory.
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