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One booted foot thumps down on the stage, the crowd silently anticipating a strum of the acoustic guitar she carries. The light shines down, highlighting the aspects of DiFranco: nose ring, funky hair, a "fuck-you" sort of stature, tattoo across upper chest, and then her mouth moves; she sings. The crowd, which despite Ani's burgeoning popularity remains mainly women-oriented, roars at her very presence. She begins to sing, play her guitar, interact with the audience with cheesy little stories that get every person in the house laughing, like they are sitting down with Ani and having their own little conversation. This is her essence, the snag that keeps the Ani fans wanting more: the feeling that Ani is going to sit down and have a little folky conversation. She says the shit a lot of girls won't, but encourages them to speak up for themselves. She sings about universal love-torment-sex type situations, and because Ani has gone with both sexes, she has experience from hetero- and not-so-hetero- standpoints. No matter who you are, there is bound to be an Ani song that you can relate to. Abortion, not fitting in, being dumped: she's done it all.

Little Plastic Castle, her new release, is quite the album indeed. Because so much hype has been surrounding DiFranco about her being a money-maker by magazines like Ms., and because some of her fans have been deeming her a sell-out (due to her love relationship with "Goat Boy" - a guy in the DiFranco crew of sound and tech-stuff; her MTV status; her sold-out concerts at any venue given, etc.), this CD had a certain reactionary feel to it: Ani was making her rebuttal to her (pissed off) fans. With the lines "Like lipstick is a sign of my declining mind" and images of her being "trapped in [her] glass house", DiFranco responds to the hype. Her fan base is getting bigger by the second though, and many women are getting tuned into the DiFranco message of being independent in a world where people expect women to be dependent.

Regardless of whatever poor media or bad word from fans there may be about her, Ani is moving up on a grand scale. Her music has progressed from purely political folk (in Ani DiFranco (1990)) to her recent edgey sounds, with a more technical, produced sound. The powerful lyrics remain, as well as her strong acoustic background, and that is what will make the sound of Ani DiFranco always belonging to Ani DiFranco.

CD Overview: Title:Little Plastic Castle Previous Albums and Such: Ani DiFranco (1990), Not So Soft, Like I Said, Imperfectly, Out of Range, Not A Pretty Girl, Women in (e)Motion (Import), Dilate, More Joy/Less Shame (EP), Living In Clip (2CD), and she's got some import EPs.. she's also featured on a few soundtracks here and there has done a compilation with Folkguy Utah Phillips called The Past Didn't Go Anywhere. Record Label: Ani's own, completely independent label: Righteous Babe Records (Call 1-800-On-Her-Own) Venus Honey Favorite Tracks: Deep Dish, Pixie, Glass House, Pulse Classification: Highly-flavored-folk-pop, with a dash of funked political pepper and a dash of good-ol' love.