Ani DiFranco’s greatest gift — more than her restlessness, more than her urgency, more than her political fervor — is how direct a communicator she is. More than once on “Allergic to Water,” she finds the razor-thin overlap between seemingly incompatible ideas, and claims a position that’s not just clearly stated but tenable. The title track explains how the thing she needs to live is also the thing that’s killing her, all without demanding (or inadvertently prompting) pity, while she makes a personal choice in “Happy All the Time” without dismissing the bad stuff very much present all around her. Her backing is intimate and lusciously sympathetic, with Todd Sickafoose’s bass cast as the blood pumping through the playful, post-coital lazing of “Tr’w” and the disarmingly casual divorce song “Harder Than It Needs to Be.” Just before the final verse of final song “Rainy Parade,” DiFranco takes a breath and exhales, too far ahead of the lyric to be incidental. It is what it is, all by itself. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Allergic to Water“
Ani DiFranco performs at the Berklee Performance Center on Nov. 20.Marc Hirsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.