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Educated Guess

3.6 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 20, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

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In form, this is the disc DiFranco fans have wanted for years: a return to her naked roots of words and guitar, entirely played, sung, and taped to eight-track by Ani herself. But in important ways, Educated Guess suggests there is no going back. Even alone, the lessons of DiFranco's adventurous decade with a band are apparent. Taking a wide-open approach to arrangements, structure, and sound, she piles up tracks of bell-clear, percussive guitar, then does the same with her vocals, the gymnastic phrases echoing, reflecting, and doubling back on themselves. This is DiFranco undiluted, her melodies pulled by rhythmic innovation, alliterative snippets of spoken word woven between jazz-inflected folk songs, lyrics tracing tangled webs of lovers, nations, and various versions of herself. Not surprisingly, it's excessive, but her legions say that's the price of letting ragged passion just hang out. --Anders Smith Lindall
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 20, 2004)
  • Original Release Date: 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Righteous Babe
  • ASIN: B0000VV4HM
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,944 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Danielle Thillet on July 3, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I feel so confused that so many Ani fans gave this album such an unflattering review. I guess people don't take kindly to thier favorite feminist icon using an album to expose her soft underbelly and show that even a "righteous babe" can have heartache.

This album is a return to everything pure that might have been lost in some previous albums. Though I gave a good review to "Evolve" as well, it often lacks the subtly, grace and raw honestly that is ever present in "Educated Guess". She is on her own on this one, in a very literal sense. This album was recorded, played, produced and mixed all by DiFranco for the first time ever. Not since 1994's "Out of Range" & "Puddle Dive" has our little folk singer gone into the studio with nothing but her guitar to play, her soul to bare and plain old moxie. This is not a big band album. There are no tricks, aside from her singing her own back-up. There are even a hand full of poems thrown in that bring us back to the days of her self-titled release and "Not So Soft". And not since 1998's "Dilate" have we been so privledged to feel so touched by and so related to her pain.

The album is not entirely depressing. "Bliss Like This" is a bubbly and misleadingly upbeat number that gives a listener a mixture of longing for a happier past and hope for a happier future. "Grand Canyon" is an inspiring patriotic poem that reminds us that it is the citizens that form a country, not solely it's politicians.

To simply write off this entire recording because DiFranco isn't reaching through the speakers and grabbing the American male by thier collective junk is simply ignorant and insensitive to the mood and timing of this release. We can't all be aggressive and bold at all times.
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Format: Audio CD
I'm baffled by the negative reviews posted by a few people...This is an awesome album. Frequently, I'll listen to a new album and start thinking about which songs are hits and which are misses, and there will always be some songs that you have to hear a few times before you come around...but this album is that rare experience where the first song blows you away, and every song tops the one before it. From those first few plinks on the guitar on "Swim", to the lyrical genious of "Educated Guess", and the rough and tumble opening of "Origami", this is the true Ani DiFranco. Maybe some of spoken word poetry won't suit everybody's style, but it's hardly enough to knock the album down to a 1 or 2 star rating. It just goes to show that if you go into an album with expectations, you're bound to be disappointed. But I've learned that with Ani, if you just take what she gives you, you'll experience things that few other musicians are capable of. Great Album.
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Format: Audio CD
Ani did this album completely alone. The fact that they're recorded on an 8 track brings a new hollow & haunting element to these songs. It doesn't sound like anything she's done before. The general mood of this album is sorrow, dread, & solitude. You can tell Ani was going through something terrible in her personal life (divorce) & the lyrics are definitely darker than they've ever been, she says on the devastating "Bodily"..."Emptiness has it's solace in that there's nothing left to take."...or on "You Each Time" which features terrifying imagery such as:

"so my heart finally broke
it was so long bent
and it broke in three places
when it finally went
it wanted only to say what it meant
so it suffered every punishment
now it lives in a shack outside of town
and only the wolves are out there listening
and in her dreams they chase her down
their moonlit eyes are glistening
and it is you each time
it is you."

This is a very dark chapter in Ani's collection, but it's definitely worth it. There's a raw power to "Educated Guess" that's comforting to me in moments of weakness & fraility in my own life.
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Format: Audio CD
this album is a perfect example of what makes ani such a consistently relevant artist: it's yet another leap forward musically, lyrically, emotionally. she does not repeat herself, she has made a habit of pushing her work forward, often much faster than her audience can handle.
Educated Guess has some of the trademark ani elements present in it: inventive guitar, excellent song structure, and lyrics that are strong as well as sad. it is the first album that she has made in about ten years that finds her entirely alone in the studio, tho recent albums have featured a handful of solo tracks. you can hear her singing to herself (literally and figuratively), trying to fill the space left by her beloved bandmates and friends. but she is quiet, and her singing is sometimes more "arranged" and "conducted" than it has been previously. there are several spoken word tracks, and on them she is just as brazenly political as we fans would have her be. i can't remember the last time (and maybe there never was a time) that she used the word "feminist" in a song, but in the vast and triumphant Grand Canyon, that's exactly what she does. she has come clean and recorded the word that underlines so much of her life and work, which is perhaps a significant revolution for the revolutionary herself.
the opening poem sets the record up: "life knocked me off my platforms," she admits, and then proceeds to play and sing alone for thirteen more tracks. her sorrow is evident and it has taken a long time to come to fruition, but while her heart may simply be a muscle that is now sore, she is no less passionate or committed to life / art.
on Educated Guess, her music, like her ideals, remains dynamic and essential.
this record is stunning. listen hard.
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