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Best National Folk

Ani DiFranco

No shelter from this storm
[Ani DiFranco] Call her hurricane Ani. Because this singer/songwriter/label-owner blew into the folk mainstream and knocked the damn house down. A few years ago she was developing her craft on the folk- and women's-music scenes, writing toothy ditties about love, revenge, and life's other niceties. Now she's everywhere -- headlining sold-out theaters, commanding space in Rolling Stone, even landing a place on the charts with her new double-CD Living in Clip (on her Righteous Babe imprint). First as a solo performer and now with her acoustic-guitar-led trio, DiFranco has put the punk back in folk -- not only in the attitude of her delivery, but in her look (whatever she damn pleases, thanks) and her D.I.Y. aesthetic. (Righteous Babe, a product of her desire to control her own . . . er, product -- has sold over a half million of her previous releases.) She's also an emotional vocalist whose crafty phrasing and range indicate she could handle jazz, gospel, R&B, or any other ingredient to spice up her singing and power-strumming recipe. Which she'll likely do. Given the restless nature of her lyrics, DiFranco seems not only to want change but to thrive on it.

-- Ted Drozdowski

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