Joyously stripped-back set from fiercely articulate DIY folk icon

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Ani DiFranco – Educated Guess

With 15 years’ profitable independence to her credit, beat poetry-spinning Buffalo gal DiFranco remains, to those outside her loyal fan base, more inspirational as a concept (or as Hamell On Trial’s label boss) than a musical experience. It’s time, perhaps, to sample the word-drunk intelligence of her 16th-or-so release, which?in the moody, percussive shiver of “Bodily” and “Company”?reads like a minimalist, politicised take on Joni Mitchell’s Hejira. Paradoxically, its spare, solo-voice-and-guitar format?a sharp U-turn from 2003’s jazzy horns-and-all Evolve?comes closer to matching DiFranco’s charismatic live performances than prior band-driven efforts, carrying off the incantatory dissent narrative of standout “Grand Canyon” with striking authority.