Last time we heard from DiFranco she was enthusing about her Red Letter Year and reminding us not to “forget to have a good time”. Three years on and the most politically punchy of folk-rock singer-songwriters says she’s “testing deeper waters with the political songs on this album” – and that doesn’t just mean the title track’s update of the Florence Reece classic, complete with guest appearance from Pete Seeger.
DiFranco’s tackling environmental issues, consumerism, disappointment in American government, and women’s rights in a tone that, in places, could be charged with hectoring. “We would buy local and we would buy less,” she posits on J, while the full-on manifesto of Amendment, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an amendment/To give civil rights to… women,” is judiciously uncomfortable listening, delving into issues such as abortion. It’s also strident, articulate stuff which serves to highlight the paucity of musicians striving to be counted.
That said, the ease of her previous album is also present here: a parallel strand to the politics that finds DiFranco invested in relationships and, most importantly, in motherhood. Not just a powerful summation of what’s not right, this is also a fulfilled shout-out for what is.