Ani DiFranco & Utah Phillips Fellow Workers

It would appear that DiFranco’s ambition has gotten the better of her on this rushed release. Her first collaboration with Phillips, an aged storyteller with more than a few interesting yarns up his sleeve, found her recording all the complimentary musical parts herself in the studio behind live recordings of Phillips reading. This time out, the whole affair is recorded before a live audience, and it sounds like it was rehearsed and written on a couple of off days during DiFranco’s own tour schedule. The music doesn’t always work with Phillips’s delivery and the whole affair sounds awkward. Although there are some interesting musical ideas, Fellow Workers is not a good showcase for DiFranco’s own arranging abilities, the stellar musicianship of her current live band or even Phillips’s charm. Sadly, all of this distracts from the potent political ideas found on tracks such as “The Most Dangerous Woman” and “Direct Action.” (Righteous Babe)