While other artists were playing benefit concerts and riding the wave of patriotism that swept the country following the 9/11 attacks, fem-rocker Ani DiFranco took the stage in April 2002 at New York’s Carnegie Hall to express her disdain for the Bush administration and his American foreign policy.
DiFranco’s latest album, “Carnegie Hall 4/6/02,” is a recording of her live performance at the famous hall. The album is a compilation of DiFranco’s past work along with her newer politically-charged songs. DiFranco is solo on stage with just her acoustic guitar. The cheering of the audience can clearly be heard in the background. A mix between songs and spoken poetry can be found throughout the album.
Unfortunately, the sound quality is less than desirable and you will find yourself adjusting the volume in order to hear the variety of songs and poems.
First-time listeners may be surprised by DiFranco’s brash, in-your-face lyrics, especially toward the end of the album when she recites her eight minute controversial poem, “Self Evident.” The poem contains the line, “We all boarded the plane for to fly, and then while the fires were raging, we all climbed up to the windowsill. And then we all held hands and jumped into the sky.” This reference to 9/11 and the countless others in the poem will offend some people, but are delivered eloquently. The silence of the New York audience is eerie, and gives a sense that they are transfixed, not insulted by the intimate lyrics.
DiFranco’s personal dislike for Bush is further made evident when she recites, “George W. Bush is not president” and refutes his victory in the 2000 election.
Because the album is live, DiFranco often tells short, personal stories inbetween songs they allow the listener to connect better with the artist. But overall, the stories are bland and lack real substance.
Fans of Ani DiFranco will be pleased to hear her older songs on “Carnegie.” Some of her more famous ones like “Gods Country” from her 1993 album “Puddle Dive” and “Gratitude” from the 1991 album “Not So Soft” are included on the album.
The wide variety of songs featured act as a snapshot of DiFranco’s 16-year career. Most importantly, her clever and sophisticated song writing ability shines with the selections.
The album works, but it comes off as being a bit late. Although 9/11 is still a relevant topic, from a musical standpoint, it seems that the album is several years too late to have a significant impact. Her 2005 album “Knuckle Down” could be a better catch for someone who is not looking for a live album.
The songs are witty, and DiFranco’s guitar skills are simple, yet effective for her style of music. Fans of DiFranco will definitely want to pick it up, but those who have not heard her music may want to listen to her previous albums first because the live recording does not give justice to her unique voice.