Music reviews: Ani Di Franco

This cover photo, published by Righteous Babe Records, shows “Revolutionary Love” by Ani Di Franco. (Righteous Babe Records via AP)

The pioneering folkie activist Ani Di Franco is an outstanding instrumentalist whose guitar could kill fascists. Unfortunately in “Revolutionary Love” their six-string doesn’t play a big role – or a lot of notes.

Not that Di Franco was mature. With characteristic passion on her first studio album since 2017, she makes the personal universal and the political personal.

Her title cut is a seven-minute promise to advance social movements with love and forgiveness, the message underscored by a slow-burning soul groove. Elsewhere, Di Franco quotes Michelle Obama, impaling an ex-president and calling for resilience after depressing headlines. Such themes are mixed with couplets about personal pain and bliss, sometimes within the same song.

The best of “Revolutionary Love” is very good. Di Franco’s acoustic guitar is best known and beautiful in “Metropolis” – a love ballad with shimmering reeds reminiscent of her description of “Fog Rises From The Bay”. The equally convincing “chloroform” complains of domestic dysfunctions, as a string quartet creates its own dissonance.

Elsewhere, Di Franco combines elements from folk, jazz and R&B and makes music suitable for a rally. She is loudest on “Do or Die” and sings over “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to a Latin American beat. Di Francophiles will find it positively patriotic.