DiFranco spruces up her sparse folk arrangements with the odd brass band, accordion, and even an electric guitar or two, but the meat of these songs is still her distinctively funky acoustic guitar style (she borrowed her rhythmic plucking technique from R&B, but unplugged, it bears no resemblance to its genre of origin). Meanwhile, DiFranco's spunky activist lyrics are tempered here by a bigger dose of vulnerability than in previous albums, which allows for a unique mix of anger, humor, and poignancy. The best songs this time around are not bitter, but quietly reflective ("You Had Time," "Buildings and Bridges," "If He Tries Anything").
Ani DiFranco doesn't really expand her sonic palette on Dilate, but she doesn't need to. DiFranco racked up a dedicated cult audience on the basis of her conviction. There's not much melody on any of her songs, but there are messages and, thankfully, a fair share of humor. Dilate suffers from a bit too much repetition, but when DiFranco lands on a good hook – such as "Superhero" or "Done Wrong" – the results suggest that she could reach a wider audience.
This program brings together a wide variety of Alan Hovhaness’ works including numerous world premiere recordings. These range from the earliest of his band compositions, the processional Tapor No. 1, to more recent chamber pieces such as the gentle barcarole of Vision on a Starry Night. The Ruins of Ani returns us to the tragic location also explored in Hovhaness’ Symphony No. 23 ‘Ani’ (available on Naxos 8.559385), while the Three Improvisations on Folk Tunes evoke dances from the Indian subcontinent. Newly discovered works with percussion include the Japanese-influenced overture to Hovhaness’ opera The Burning House alongside October Mountain, now a classic in its genre.
On September 11 and 12, 2007, singer / songwriter / guitarist Ani DiFranco played two sold-out shows before a hometown audience in Buffalo, New York…