Ani DiFranco has never been afraid to take chances. DiFranco’s new disc, Allergic To Water, is another bold accomplishment and its music is her most subtle. Set for an October 14 release on DiFranco’s groundbreaking Righteous Babe Records label, Allergic To Water was recorded at her Victorian home in New Orleans and at a larger studio in an old church. Throughout the disc, DiFranco, her small group and a couple prominent guests create melodies that are lilting and funky, imaginative and personal: so personal that she also took the lead in producing and mixing the record.
Below DiFranco discusses Allergic To Water:
“Hello world, Ani here. Got a new wreckord and i don’t hate it.
“We recorded it in two 4-day sessions, one while I was six and a half months pregnant
(I swear I can hear how my voice sounds different in those tracks), and one a year later while I was nursing a six month old. The songs come very much up-out of that inward cocoon that a new baby creates and reflect the gifts and the strains of the journey. Because the new babe is so high-maintenance (welcome to parenting a boy!, say my knowing friends) I pretty much mixed and produced this one myself, after years of working very closely with my ace record-producing husband, Mike Napolitano.
“Mostly I worked alone in headphones, in the wee hours, while my family slept. It was empowering but terrifying to have the buck stop with me again in terms of the mixes. The recordings are documents of my current touring band (recorded by Mike in our old victorian house in the Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans and also by Andy Taub at a nearby church in the Treme) just laying down the songs.
“Many also feature a couple of very choice special guests. My killer band these days consists of bassist and composer Todd Sickafoose, who not only brings an always wonderful and unexpected counterpoint to my guitar with his bass playing, but is also my secret weapon in terms of production- overdubbing atmospherics and embellishments that add depth and color to the stories I tell.
“My drummer is Terence Higgins, a New Orleans native, who brings that deeply funky pocket that makes me smile so wide, yet all-the-while listening through to the whole picture and really making music with his instrument, not just rhythms. Though most of Terence’s musical incarnations have him playing drum kit, this record really features his hand-percussion prowess- like the congas on “see see see see”, the Mardi Gras Indian style tambourine on “genie” – he nailed it every time.
“And speaking of new orleans, the incredible Ivan Neville joins the band on a good number of these tunes and, like Todd, has a way of elevating and deepening (does that make sense?) the proceedings every time. Ivan sunk his funky footprint into the mud of “Dithering” and brought a steamy shimmer to “Tr’w”. He provides the perfect soulful response in “Happy All The Time” and rides shotgun to my guitar in the drag race of “Careless Words”. I’m also quite psyched and fortunate that Ivan is going to join my band on tour this fall and help bring these songs to life on stage.
“The other prominent and very special guest is violinist Jenny Scheinman, a long-time cohort of Todd’s and a more recent friend of mine. Jenny opened a bunch of shows for me last spring and we had such a blast hanging out and jamming together that I just had to get her on this new record. She joins the greek chorus of my bullet-mic choir and also steps out and takes the lead in a few songs with her vivid and magical playing.
“Beyond them, there is my friend and sometimes band member Mike Dillon playing triangle on one track and Matt Perrine, a New Orleans sousaphonist at-large, plays a dang tuba solo on “Harder Than It Needs To Be”, cuz every country song needs a tuba (technically sousaphone) solo! Am I right?
“Ok, that’s really about it. i hope you enjoy this record. Thank you for listening.”
Ani DiFranco website: www.anidifranco.com