On Evolve, her last album with her band before returning to solo life, Ani DiFranco indeed takes her evolution a step further, with a typical disregard for expectations or flavors of the month.

On Evolve, her last album with her band before returning to solo life, Ani DiFranco indeed takes her evolution a step further, with a typical disregard for expectations or flavors of the month. Heavily jazz-infused, with splashes of funk, folk, and Latin, here are 12 taut tracks that, paradoxically, give off a feeling of looseness. Highly cerebral, the visceral kick hits on the third or fourth play. There are some spicy grooves here—the jazz-funk of "In the Way," the discordant basement-jazz-club vibe of "O My My"—but it's DiFranco's wordplays that steal the show. Her quippy relationship anti-narratives are raw-meat honesty, while the Beatnik poetry slam "Serpentine," a torrid political rip on the true state of the nation, gets all the juices flowing. Evolve showcases one of the smartest lyricists in music today, the sexiest voice on the scene, and the ultimate righteous babe.—AZ