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Red Letter Year Import

28 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, July 19, 2011
$18.47
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Editorial Reviews

Prolific feminist singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco began performing at the age of nine, establishing her independence by living on her own from the age of 15 onwards. Literate, ebullient and a natural live performer, she quickly won converts drawn equally from Folk and Rock audiences. Her debut album confirmed this promise, its lyrics informed by feminist theory but never subsumed by rhetoric or preciousness. As she told Billboard magazine in 1995: `It`s not like I have an agenda in my music. It`s just that to me, the world is political. Politics is music - is life! That`s the lens I look through.` 12 tracks.

1. Red Letter Year
2. Alla This
3. Present/Infant
4. Smiling Underneath
5. Way Tight
6. Emancipated Minor
7. Good Luck
8. The Atom
9. Round A Pole
10. Landing Gear
11. Star Matter
12. Red Letter Year [Reprise] [Version]

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 19, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Imports
  • ASIN: B001EICDO8
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,662,317 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Crystal M. Russell on December 1, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I've been a die-hard Ani fan for 12 years. I buy each album she puts out without question, and will probably consider to do so, hoping she will shock and awe me as she once did in the days of Dilate and Little Plastic Castles.

Red Letter Year seems to be at the bottom of a downhill slide that started when she began playing with the voice-synthesizer and instrumentals. So much of Red Letter Year has been so overly-synthesized that you can barely hear her voice, much less make out what she's saying. Sure, some of it rings through, and you get those wonderfully Ani lyrics, but, despite much searching, I can hardly find anything here that reminds me of why I love her.

Normally, I find one or two (or three or four) songs per album that I replay incessently for weeks and months on end. There's nothing here that made me want to listen to the CD more than once. I am saddened by it, but hope that Ani will make a comeback with something more relevent, something more "ani", for her old, diehard fans.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By K. Gallagher on October 1, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I was always crazy about Ani's solo work, going back to the early 90's, but I have always regretted her decision to try to develop a full band -- the amazing qualities of her musicianship and songs never translated to an upright bass, terrible horns, and marginal rotating bandmates. However, the new album achieves some awesome heights, particularly the tracks 'Red Letter Year', 'Alla This', and 'Smiling Underneath'. Her signature percussive guitar attack is all but gone, but I think she finally may have found a sound with her band. The drums are extraordinary throughout, and some very interesting effects/sounds pepper many of the songs. However, even more so than the improvements in the band, Ani's voice has reached an incredible maturity. In many songs, there's a simple (yet very strong) sweetness to it, and very seldom do you hear the overly-affected vocal tremolo that has marred her singing style on the last few albums. If you take away the inexplicably horrible final track (which sounds like a bunch of drunk high school band castoffs trying very unsuccessfully to sound "fun"), this album is truly a treat. Highly recommended, especially for those who may have been avoiding her recent albums due to the reduction of the visceral results of her and her acoustic guitar. Great job Ani!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 10, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Ani Difranco relocated from Buffalo to New Orleans, and this has clearly had a profound effect on her writing and musical style. And at all that (plus having become a mom) hasn't stopped Ani from continuing to be the prolific writer that she's always been. This is Ani's 18th proper studio album (never mind the many live albums and compilations).

"Red Letter Year" (12 tracks, 47 min.) brings a renewed focus from Ani. After a disappointing opening title track (yes, we get it, you don't like Bush) that is simply not interesting musically, the album kicks into gear with "Alla This", which immediately brings forward the influence of New Orleans and the Louisiana music underground. The album features plenty of horns and other brass music, and Ani makes the best of it. There remain of course several tracks of more traditional Ani songs, sparse, with acoustic guitars (such as on "Star Matter"). One of my favorite tracks is "The Atom", a beautiful pensive tune with such lines as "I had a great great uncle who worked on the atomic bomb/He got a nobel price in physics and a place in this song", hehe. The album closer is an instrumental reprise of the title track, a full brass all-out re-interpretation, just beautiful.

In all, "Red Letter Year" is a most welcome addition to the rich Ani Difranco catalog. I saw Ani in concert earlier this year at the Langerado festival in South Florida, and she brought a tremendous set, playing many of the classics along with a couple tracks from this album (which by then was not out yet).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. R. Sánchez on October 11, 2008
Format: Audio CD
As some reviewers have pointed out, this album might be a disappointment for those who are deeply in love with the 90's Ani.
It's much like To The Teeth, Revelling/Reckoning, Knuckledown or Reprieve (specially very similar to this one), but actually a lot more future-oriented, sonically fairly innovative, tight and song-by-song perfectly crafted.
I'd like to say which songs are my favourites, but.. I can't mention none in particular.
I love The Atom, Emancipated Minor, and the three first: Red Letter Year, Alla This and Present/Infant. But all the songs of this excellent album are truly standouts.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By retrocheeky on March 16, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Personally, I can't see how anyone can not notice the difference between early- and mid-era Ani, and this. The poetry has gone, the easy facility with words. The insight. But mostly, the passion. It's partly that this album took a long time to make, so it lacks the urgency and "splurgey"ness which gave her earlier work such vitality, and partly that she has much less to sing about these days. That's not a criticism of her. She grew up, her perspective changed, she got sick and tired of being sick and tired. Unfortunately her wonderful biting anger hasn't been replaced by wisdom or mellow humour, just a cardboard version of itself.

Aside from the woeful lack of inspiration evident on Red Letter Year, it is horribly over-produced, so that it feels like not only were the lyrics laboured, the sound was too.

Ani is open about being ashamed by her work afer it's done, because it's an in-the-moment blurt-out full of mistakes and fleeting emotion. She said she's much happier with this one because she took it slow. Ironically, that's what makes it, in my view, so awful.

I will admit my dislike of this album is partly because Ani and I appear to have parted ways in terms of belief and concerns. "The Atom" makes my toes curl. I have a problem with the sentiment, which would be okay except its delivered so awkwardly, it's basically an ill-informed, over-opinionated rant. I cannot listen to that song.

Like many reviewers here I have been an Ani fan for over a decade, but I can't see myself buying any more of her work. Her latest unreleased songs aren't terrible but they're not great either. There seem to be a number of newer fans who really like this stuff, who see "change" where I see "decline", and more power to them. I'm backing out at this point, it's too painful.
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