In a career spanning nearly three decades, Ani DiFranco‘s music has evolved in countless ways, reflecting everything from a major relocation (from New York to New Orleans) to her acquisition of a funky, shimmery backing band. But she’s also kept her core values intact, from her outspoken commitment to progressive social causes to her strenuously maintained independence from the machinery of the music industry.
For her Tiny Desk debut, DiFranco brought a hell of a backing band, with drummer Terence Higgins and singer/violinist Jenny Scheinman joined by none other than Ivan Neville on keyboards. Together, they lend a slithery underpinning of funk to three songs that stretch across much of DiFranco’s career. After opening with “Dithering,” from 2014’s Allergic To Water, DiFranco introduces “Play God” (from this year’s Binary) with a monologue about reproductive rights and gender relations; later, she and her band close with 1998’s “Swan Dive,” which she calls “an early attempt at a happy song.”
For DiFranco, now 20 albums into a fruitful career, happy songs come easier than they used to; like anyone who’s done anything steadily for 28 years, she’s in a different place than she used to be. But on a fundamental level, she’s the same tough and uncompromising singer-songwriter she’s always been.
- “Play God”
- “Swan Dive”
Ani DiFranco (vocals, guitar); Jenny Scheinman (violin, vocals); Ivan Neville (keyboards); Terence Higgins (drums)
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern, Alyse Young; Production Assistant: Salvatore Maicki; Photo: Jennifer Kerrigan/NPR
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