With If I Can't Dance, local folk singer and activist Anne Feeney releases a compilation of new songs and audience favorites, sure to amuse lefties with a sense of humor -- and history.
Emma Goldman is memorialized on the opening song, while Amelia Earhart gets similar treatment later on; Dick Cheney and the New World Order are obvious villains within Feeney's down-home, pro-labor songbook. Over the disc's sprawling 16 tracks, the spirit of protest is often leavened with a brash, humorous outlook on the world's problems, accompanied by an eccentric collection of instruments spanning boogie-woogie piano, electric guitar, simple acoustic strums and uillean bagpipes.
One of the highlights is certainly the jazzy, satirical number "Defenders of Marriage," penned by Roy Zimmerman: "A man must never lie with a person who is a guy / A man must only lie to his wife, the Bible is clear," Feeney sings as a clarinet circles overhead. "We're defenders of marriage, defending the institution / From people who want to get married!" Sometimes her try-anything approach doesn't always work -- the scratching (courtesy DJ Huggy) and rapping on her version of the Irish song "Phil the Fluter's Jam" may prompt some winces.
Ultimately, what unites and enlivens all the songs is Feeney's clear voice, often reminiscent of Amy Rigby's. On If I Can't Dance, those pleasant qualities are often shown to best effect on straightforward tracks like "My Feet Are Tired," "Let Their Heads Roll" (penned by Pittsburgher Jack Erdie) and the closer, "Lullaby."