"Knuckle Down" finds Ani DiFranco trying some different approaches to her music.
"Knuckle Down" finds Ani DiFranco trying some different approaches to her music. In a first for her, she paired with another musician (Joe Henry) for production duties, and she changed her writing style by consciously composing for the set instead of writing songs and later determining how they would fit as a collection. The results are a selection of high quality that veers between brightly spirited ("Manhole," "Lag Time") and somber ("Callous"). "Parameters" is a terrifying spoken-word piece delivered over a desolate guitar loop that will raise goose bumps. DiFranco dispels the chill with "Paradigm," which reveals her immigrant parents' appreciation for their adopted country. Eight other musicians provide moving accompaniments, such as Julie Wolf's melodica on "Minerva" and the rich strings that Tony Scherr and Andrew Bird contribute to "Recoil."—CLT