Local Wire

Ani DiFranco

On her latest album, Ani DiFranco exorcises ghosts, feigns death, and once again opens herself up to the world. While she's never separated the personal from the political, Knuckle Down comes across as a direct reflection of her recent personal heartbreaks. DiFranco's divorce is the subject of a few songs, most notably "Manhole," where she proclaims, "After my dreaded beheading/I tied that sucker back on with a string/And I guess I'm pretty different now, considering." The singer also references her late father in the poignant "Recoil," seemingly one of those lonely songs that came to her when she returned to an empty house after another tour. DiFranco has a way of turning her own stories into universal feelings, such as in the eerie "Parameters," a chilling spoken-word account, backed by creepy piano and slow, pulsing percussion, of a woman who comes home to find a stranger sitting in her bedroom one night -- guaranteed to draw whatever haunts you out of your subconscious. Musically, she's blended her aggressive acoustic guitar playing with symphonic strings, proving once again that her stories can take any sonic shape.