Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ani DiFranco: Not a Pretty Girl [Righteous Babe, 1995]
Although her girlcult loves her madly, the guys I know smell trouble every time she opens her mouth. This has nothing to do with her face, body, or sense of style. It's her words, the sheer volume of them, jetting out in expressionistic torrents as if she feels free to say any goddamn thing that comes to mind. But give DiFranco the chance and she may just make you like her ancient formula for self-indulgent songpoetry. Augmented only by a drummer this time, her acoustic guitar and electric bass produce a one-of-a-kind sound, and those torrents take shape as literal accounts of a mercurial inner life with more love than anger in it. So if she's not my type and maybe not yours, big deal. At 24, she already has seven albums hanging from her nose ring, and they're getting good enough that we need her more than she needs us. A-