Ani DiFranco: Dilate Album Review

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By Anna Keyser
Music Journalist

Artist: Ani DiFranco
Album: Dilate
Release Date: May 21, 1996
Record Label: Righteous Babe Records

Ani DiFranco, whose actual name is Angela Maria DiFranco, released her seventh album, Dilate, in 1996. This was her first of many albums which topped the Billboard 100 charts, a huge achievement at the time for an independent release.

DiFranco was born on Sept. 23, 1970, in Buffalo, New York. She began her musical career at the very young age of nine when her guitar teacher got her a gig at a local coffee shop.

She began writing music at 14 and soon began to make the rounds of the Buffalo folk nightclub seen. In 1990 at the age of 19, DiFranco had written over 100 originals, grown a musical following and established her own record company, Righteous Babe Records.

Even though it seems DiFranco had no trouble at all gaining popularity, it was simply by word-of-mouth from prolific fans of her relentless touring days.

Her hit album Dilate truly reflects how talented DiFranco is. Before this, DiFranco was only using guitars, bass and drums in her instrumental palette. Dilate features new sounds of trumpet, organ, and synthesizer, among others.

Songs from the album like “Going Down,” “Shameless,” and “Napoleon” present her genre-bending and groovy sound. This includes genres like punk rock and alternative folk-rock. I get huge Regina Spektor and Alanis Morissette vibes.

Her guitar playing is very staccato-like, along with her vocals sometimes. It ties into her amazing rhythmic flow and sophistication with words.

DiFranco is also very political with her music. Songs like “Adam and Eve” and “Amazing Grace” contain social issues like women’s reproductive rights and racism. Others include sexual abuse, homophobia, poverty and war.

Success never seemed to be an issue for DiFranco as she still creates and performs music in her Buffalo hometown for her loyal fanbase. She gives credit to her mentor, Pete Seeger, who was a prolific songwriter in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

My favorite song from the album is “Joyful Girl,” it’s a simpler tune on the album but still so beautiful. I recommend listening to this album in full because there’s something great and different on every track. Ani DiFranco is truly a righteous woman.

Featured image via Dilate Album cover.

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