Who Needs Multi-Platinum
The bottom line is that Canon is DiFranco's best effort to date. The handful of songs that have been re-arranged for her new band (Allison Miller on drums, Todd Sickafoose on bass) are exquisitely well-performed, and purposefully presented. Most shining among them is "Overlap," whose new flavor is easily augmented by the jazz skills of the new band, but also realized in the vocal performance—considerably more expressive in its new environment than the original.
"Your Next Bold Move" starts with thick layers of voices before clearing away for the verses. Miller's driving rhythm is like a misshapen wheel turning, and is complemented by what's either rhythmic breathing or a dulled cymbal. The vocal layers return after the chorus for a moment of smooth sailing before the verse takes back the stuttering rhythm. It's typical DiFranco-arranged melody-and-rhythm play, and works rather well in this tune. In fact, this is where the full poet shows off her skills, building a whole song from rhythm, melody, lyrics and mood, as opposed to just backing up her voice with some instrumental breaks.
In case anyone forgot about DiFranco's ability to make up for the presence of an entire band by just working her instrument, the re-arrangement of "Shameless" shows up on this CD as proof. It takes until the part where the drum solo usually comes in to realize she's alone on this version. Alternating between well-distorted electric and percussively-picked acoustic tracks, guitar is all this song really needs.
As For the Rest of the Record
In all, this disc delivers on all fronts. Listeners just discovering the breadth of DiFranco's skill will appreciate the versatility of her craft. Long-time fans will appreciate the narrative arc that follows the progression of Ani's skills, shifting band personnel and the lives of the songs themselves. The die-hards who already own every record she's ever made will delight in the innovation of the re-recorded tunes. And at the end of the day, DiFranco and her record company can enjoy the wealth of art they've put into the world in the last almost-20 years. Let's hope it doesn't stop here.