In a decade when folk music does not capture attention like it used to, some hints of the genre remain. Blending together rock and acoustic sounds, female musicians of the 1990s have emerged with a different type of folk – folk rock. Epitomizing the new sound, Ani DiFranco returns with her latest release Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up (Righteous Babe Records).
Marking DiFranco’s 13th release under her own record label, the album features 11 original songs. With emotional and powerful lyrics, DiFranco addresses topics such as politics, religion, poverty, drugs and violence. She incorporates both upbeat and quiet songs on the album, but slightly leans toward slower songs this time around.
In “‘Tis of Thee,” she looks at America and the tainted politics of the 1990s. Contemplating what the United States has become with acoustic sounds, DiFranco rationalizes whether people will change the injustices in the world.
On the title track, DiFranco’s focus turns toward religion. With a catchy yet soothing beat, she looks introspectively at the natural wonders of earth and life. “Everest” addresses the simplicity of the concept of time and offers listeners another slow song to enjoy.
In “Come Away From It,” DiFranco’s hauntingly beautiful voice attempts to persuade a loved one to give up drugs. The song is the most stirring track of the album. In it, DiFranco addresses a serious societal problem with pleading lyrics that speak to listeners with emotional strain.
Contrasting the slower songs, DiFranco offers a few upbeat tunes on her album. Although it addresses the serious impacts of divorce on children, “Angry Anymore” is livelier, with a faster rhythm. She also experiments with a funkier, jazz-like beat in “Virtue,” “Jukebox,” “Angel Food,” “Know Now Then” and “Hat Shaped Hat.” The combination of the quiet tracks and the emotional songs create a balance on the album that gives it an overall enjoyable quality.
DiFranco has reached new heights with this album. The messages of her music are not new to society – many encounter them on a daily basis. But it is the manner in which she addresses them that differs. Her voice and words are powerful and moving. She is emotional and freely speaks her mind.
She attempts to reach listeners with her music. She does not preach to them about what is politically correct but tries to expand their awareness of issues while offering some compassion in the process. Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up provides an eclectic blend of rock and folk that will easily stir listeners and give them a greater understanding of some of life’s difficult situations.