1995, Music

Not a Pretty Girl (1995) by Ani DiFranco

Ani had used bands at times before this record, despite her full, percussive guitar style that easily lends itself to solo performances. But on this record she decided to full band more of the time (to my memory) but by recording just her an her drummer.

So she handles bass on a number of tracks, electric on 2?, steel on 1 and some percussion as well, and she overdubs a bunch (both guitar and vocals, though the vocal overdubs are hardly new). And on to of that there is drums or percussion on most, but not all, tracks.

The result is a fuller sound than I’m used to from her earlier records. (Though that could just be because I haven’t listened to any of them in forever.) And I think it mostly works. She hasn’t gone crazy with the full band performances yet, and these still sound pretty intimate despite the overdubs. (It’s fair to say the overdubs are judicious for the most part.) People have said this is “rockier” than her early stuff and I think that’s definitely fair. And not a criticism.

As usual, the songs are mostly good. I hear a few echoes of previous melodies, but I feel like this is common with her songs as she has certain melodic lilts she prefers. I also detect the influence of “Wish You Were Here” (or a song that inspired its chord progression) on one track. But, on the whole, it’s a fine set of songs from her. (Not her best, far from her worst.)

Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to rank it as one of her better albums in part just because she decided to show us that she wasn’t just an excellent guitarist but can also be a pretty competent one-woman band (if you forget about the drumming).


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