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Puddle Dive

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Album Review

Like most singer/songwriters, Ani DiFranco writes songs out of her own experience and perspective, and as of her fourth album she seems to be spending a lot of time on the road, since the life of a traveling musician is repeatedly described in the album's songs. The first two tracks, "Names and Dates and Times" and "Anyday," are about the singer's attraction to someone, but she never forgets that she won't be in town long. "4th of July" finds her passing through Iowa, and "Back Around" justifies the career of an itinerant musician as better than working in construction or retail. At times, DiFranco's bitterness gets the better of her. In "Blood in the Boardroom" she expresses her disapproval of the corporate record business (you assume — what else was she doing in a boardroom?) by staining her chair with menstrual blood. That isn't the only time that menstruation comes up on this album, either, and it is part of DiFranco's method to seize upon topics that make some people uncomfortable (and that few other songwriters bring up). Who else would use nosepicking as a metaphor for liberation? "What is it about me that offends?" she asks in "Pick Yer Nose" after having declared "I'm not hurting anyone/I'm just telling my own truth" in "Born a Lion." But of course that's disingenuous; she knows perfectly well that telling your own truth can offend people, and she sets up targets to shoot down. ("Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right," she sings in "My IQ.") Nevertheless, though Puddle Dive is characteristically scattershot, DiFranco as usual hits a few of those targets, even when, as not infrequently, she's aiming at herself.


Born: 23 September 1970 in Buffalo, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A folkie in punk's clothing, Ani DiFranco battled successfully against the Goliath of corporate rock to emerge as one of the most influential and inspirational cult heroines of the 1990s. A resolute follower of the D.I.Y. ethos, DiFranco released her records through her own indie label, Righteous Babe, slowly but steadily building a devout grassroots following on the strength of a relentless tour schedule. An ardent feminist and an open bisexual, her songs tackled issues like rape, abortion, and...
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