Red Letter Year
Red Letter Year is one of those records about—dare I say it?—hope. Its folksy tunes praise Mother Earth and the blessings we all share at the end of a devastating political era. You don't have to be a longtime fan of Ani DiFranco to be convinced that it is desirable—hell, even possible—to live in the woods, knit your own socks, grow your own food, and exist in a woman-centric world (assuming you don't already). Just as public rhetoric swirls around the sweeping changes that are coming, Ani reminds us that another type of radical life for us as individuals is possible now. Her life and work is all about putting forward ideas for radical action, and this album is no different. Red Letter Year finds our indie heroine a little older, wiser, and a bit more hopeful.
Indispensable sentiments: how love can make most of life's inconveniences seem inconsequential, how praying to a male god is "insane", and how complicated it is to nitpick oneself when your child is now your reflection more than a mirror. DiFranco is a mother now—clearly a euphoric one—and it shows. The title track opens with soaring joy and a sound of promise, with the entire album following suit. The artwork alone is worth the purchase; the lovely, earthy design and liner notes feel so tangible in a time of digital downloads and lyrics websites.
Ani's work—from her music to her record label—represents a particular type of radical feminism. Just because you don't subscribe to that vein of ideology doesn’t mean you can't appreciate this folksy rocker as she croons and reflects on our universal struggles. Take it from a late convert: if you didn't love Ani before, this is the time to start.