Ani DiFranco, ‘¿Which Side Are You On?’

Ani DiFranco begins with a summation of what she has done best in 20-plus years in the trenches. “Every time I open my mouth / I take off my clothes / And I’m raw and frostbitten / From being exposed,’’ she sings on “Life Boat.’’ Consider it a preface to the bracing sentiments she explores on “¿Which Side Are You On?’’ marking a return to political rhetoric after its more relaxed predecessor, 2008’s “Red Letter Year.’’ Particularly on the title track, DiFranco sounds emboldened - fed up with consumer culture, war, and big corporations. Pete Seeger, who first made “Which Side Are You On?’’ an anthem, contributes vocals and a banjo intro before the song kicks into overdrive, replete with horns and new lyrics by DiFranco. She tempers her politics with tender, tightly held ruminations on love (“Albacore’’), the ways we find it (“Promiscuity’’), and getting older (“If Yr Not’’). She’s still painting in broad strokes; the swelling orchestrations on “Splinter’’ are a refreshing detour. Most of this spirited album strikes a natural balance between matters of the heart and causes close to DiFranco’s heart. (Out today)

ESSENTIAL “Life Boat’’