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June 28, 2004

{     Ani Difranco - Educated Guess     }    

I gradumicated from high school in June of 1994, a year earlier than expected by my family and two years later than I would've liked. I started school at Florida State University in September of 1994 and, somewhere between a Frente concert and pissing my best friend off so bad that she hasn't spoken to me in 10 years, I stumbled across Ani DiFranco. This was back in the time when she was making angry, lesbian-oriented music and, when I plopped her first five albums on the counter of my local used CD store, the grrl behind the counter, dreadlocks akimbo, gave me a look that would've curdled milk. What was I, a six foot, 300 lb "frat" guy with long hair tied back in a ponytail doing buying HER Ani? To be honest, trying to get laid but, in my quest for booty, I fell in love with her music and it's simplicity. From basic acoustic guitar and a microphone on "Like I Said" to the big band sound on some of "Little Plastic Castle," she has evolved and grown more than any musician of our time. A female Bob Dylan for our generation, she's had her bad moments but she always comes back to what she's known for most. Brutal honesty and an acoustic guitar. "Educated Guess" marks a big shift back to her roots. Sparsely produced by Ani personally, it's just her, a guitar and an 8-track recorder in a room (pictured on the album cover). She mixes in spoken word tracks amongst the simple and beautiful songs, as is the modus operandi for most of her recordings. The first "song" of the album is "Swim" which features a loose vocal harmony mixed with a simple guitar riff while the lyrics display a vulnerability-turned-strength theme that is a common thread througout the album. "I let you surround me, I let you drown me out with your din....And then I learned how to swim." The album was recorded after a breakup with her former technician "The Goat" (as she affectionately called him), a relationship that alienated her lesbian fan base almost to the point of riot. Songs like "Origami", an i-am-woman-hear-me-roar blast, to the slow groove of "Bliss Like This" pepper this album with personality that many fans thought she was losing. The album ends with the dissonant opening of "Bubble," and a kiss-off of sorts to her ex with lyrics like "I hated to pop the bubble of me and you.." as she encapsulates the isolation that comes from new relationships and how it can affect someone both inside and out. With a unique voice, excellent musicianship, a perfect ear for harmony and poetry-like lyrics, this album has everything that an Ani DiFranco fan has come to expect from this Buffalo, N.Y. native. A definite must-buy for any true fan and a perfect intro to what makes her music so special. Less political and more emotional, it's a worthy addition to any acoustic music lover's collection.

     » Righteous Babe Records

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