Music

Ani DiFranco: Educated Guess

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Ani DiFranco has always been a do-it-yourself kind of girl, and she proves it with Educated Guess, her 20th album and first solo project in a decade. Not only did she write all the music and lyrics, sing both lead and backup, and play all the instrumentals, but she recorded and mixed the entire album herself on a vintage eight-track reel-to-reel. The result is her most honest and organic work to date. • Educated Guess has a cozy, intimate feel, as if she’d invited a group of friends over and started strumming her guitar while everyone was sipping cocktails in her living room. While the music itself is sensual and hypnotic, it is DiFranco’s confessional, cathartic lyrics that take center stage. From the self-effacing metaphors in the album’s title track to her unbleached ideal of patriotism described in the spoken-word piece “Grand Canyon,” DiFranco shows that she is not only an incredible musician, but a true poet as well. • The only thing missing from Educated Guess is the frenetic, aggressive, shoot-the-bastard break-up rock featured so prominently on her earlier solo albums. However, longtime fans will instantly recognize her trademark brand of musical genius, and those stumbling across her for the first time will be held captive by this rough-edged, down-home masterpiece. —Thomas Blanton

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