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DiFranco Goes Alone on “Guess”

Independent folkie strips away the excess for new album

Folk singer Ani DiFranco has defined her career through her
independent spirit, both on her albums and in her founding of
Righteous Babe Records nearly a decade ago. But DiFranco’s latest
record, Educated Guess, due January 20th, pushes the
limits of her independence further than ever. She played all the
instruments, sang lead and backing vocals, and recorded and mixed
the album alone in her home studio.

“I’ve mixed my records and been heavily involved in the
recording process in the past,” she says, “but there was always at
least an engineer there to at least push record and set up
microphones. It was like an exorcism of sorts — a very lonely,
very frustrating, excruciating process but also really empowering
and really instructive.”

In the last year, the prolific songwriter, whose last album was
March’s Evolve, made significant changes in her personal
and professional life when she found her self struggling to keep up
with her own schedule. “I was surrounded by a lot of people,” she
says. “The circumstance of my life changed drastically from the
girl who wrote those first few albums alone. Then the audience
grew, so I could afford to have a crew and a band. And suddenly I’m
surrounded by people 24-7.”

It was for those reasons that DiFranco set out on her own again
for Educated Guess. “It takes a colossal amount of time
and energy to be a bandleader, to be an arranger, to get five
people up and at ’em every night,” she says. “To power this big
machine everyday and attend to it, feed it and fuel it. I let go of
the band. I also let go of my dear lover. I feel like I’m only just
beginning to feel myself over the past few years and come to terms
with who I was amidst it all.”

Educated Guess, DiFranco’s twenty-first solo album, is
one of her sharpest, most honest works to date. Its fourteen tracks
document the struggles and empowerment of solitude and the desire
to reconnect with a more authentic version of herself. The album’s
gritty sound — DiFranco plays a series of guitars, some
percussion, bass and even keyboards — matches her candid
songwriting.

“There’s this unspoken assumption that you’re supposed to get
clean sounds and separation between the instruments,” she says.
“And you’re certainly not supposed to have any ambient noise in the
background. But I sort of abandoned that on this record out of
necessity because I was recording in my house. To me, it sounds
like home.”

DiFranco is also compiling a live album on her solo tour —
which will run through early 2004 — which she hopes to release
next year as well.

Educated Guess track list:

Platforms
Swim
Educated Guess
Origami
Bliss Like This
The True Story of What Was

Bodily
You Each Time
Animal
Grand Canyon
Company
Rain Check
Akimbo
Bubble

Ani DiFranco tour dates:

11/10: Burlington, VT, Flynn Theater
11/11: Portland, ME, Expo Center
11/12: Providence, RI, Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
11/14: Poughkeepsie, NY, Mid Hudson Civic Center
11/15: Amherst, MA, Mullins Center
11/16: Boston, Orpheum Theater
11/18: Ithaca, NY, State Theater
11/19: Philadelphia, Keswick Theater
11/21-11/22: New York, Beacon Theater
11/25: Buffalo, NY, Kleinhans Music Hall
1/17: Chicago, Chicago Theater
1/18: Des Moines, IA, Hoyt Sherman Theater
1/20: Cedar Rapids, IA, Paramount Theater
1/21: Lawrence, KS, Liberty Hall
1/23: Minneapolis, Northrup Auditorium
1/24: Milwaukee, Riverside Theater
1/25: Madison, WI, Orpheum Theater
1/27: Ft. Wayne, IN, Scottish Rite Center
1/28: Kalamazoo, MI, Kalamazoo State Theater
1/30: Ann Arbor, MI, Hill Auditorium

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