Maybe it’s me who can’t shake the seismic impact of Ani DiFranco opening for Dylan in the swamps of Jersey, blasting through the night during the ’97 Living In Clip tour. Maybe I haven’t evolved past such bold statements as Imperfectly, Little Plastic Castles, Dilate, etc. . . Girls mature faster than boys, we know, I get it. But I swear, ever since the first Obama administration (or the birth of her first baby, take your pick) Ani’s recordings, though musically lush, diverse, and expansive, have tempered the gut punch that made her the righteous firebrand we loved.
In the promo package for Allergic To Water, our heroine announces “hello world. ani here. got a new wreckord and I don’t hate it.” Well, I don’t either, truth be told, but there’s a nagging schizophrenia I can’t shake. Recorded in her Crescent City home with husband/producer Mike Napolitano and her long time touring band (including bass virtuoso Todd Sickafoose) “Dithering,” “Careless Words,” “Genie,” and “Rainy Parade” carry the day in that imaginatively funky, multi-layered DiFranco way. Then you listen to the breezy island pop of “See See See See” but the lyrics are way, way too lovey-dovey. Same goes for the title track: brooding, atmospheric but the lyric. OY! “I’m allergic to water but I drink ‘cos I have to.” Ugh. Not quite “32 Flavors,” is it?
– Mike Jurkovic