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Annie rocks live

Ani DiFranco’s fans know that her studio albums are a distant second to her live performances, and her latest live release So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter definitely blows her recent studio efforts away.

Skeptics who wondered just how long DiFranco could rehash the same themes will be pleasantly surprised. DiFranco proves that she can reinvent her songs over and over, that every performance provides another chance to sing in a new way.

Her last live effort, 1997’s Living in Clip, didn’t quite live up to its hype, but So Much Shouting deserves all the hype in the world. DiFranco relies on her emotive style and wide vocal range, her exciting reinterperetations of her own songs and her winning personality, and the result is excellent. Versions of “Not a Pretty Girl” and “Swan Dive” are barely recognizable, but are totally compelling. There’s also a moving spoken word meditation on the ramifications of September 11 that deals with mourning the event with an eye critical of the U.S. government and institutions.

And DeFranco’s not the only one flaunting her skill on the album. Her band is made up of extremely skilled musicians who seem to relish the sense of play they are afforded on tour with someone as dynamic as DiFranco.

This album is infused with the energy of all the live shows DiFranco has done in the past few years -the power of hundreds of nights wrapped up into one.