Ani DiFranco: Knuckle Down

This is a different ADF record because home girl finally lets someone else in on the production side of the album and it shows. Fellow musician Joe Henry comes through and earns his keep by shifting things around enough to keep them interesting without changing up ADF’s core vibe.

The damn near disturbing “Callous” is only topped by the even more fucked up “Parameters” on the songs you must react to chart. But not everything swings from the emotional fence. In fact, whether hardcore fans want to admit this or not (and they won’t), Knuckle Down definitely makes a case for being the finest record in her lengthy catalog due to its balance.

For all of the changes and moments that bring chills there are also just amazing numbers that remind you why this independent’s independence has survived for so long, so well on her own without big money lining her pockets.

“Manhole”has a certain gallop to it that will remind old school fans of why they got into her in the first place while “Recoil” in all its lushness just may be the best thing she’s ever put to tape that has been released.

Overall, Knuckle Down seems to celebrate that even on an unintentional level one can remain who you are, who you were, and still take new chances all at the same time. If that does not keep Ani in the race as one of the most important artists on the scene today, I don’t know what will.