Twenty-five years later, Little Plastic Castle feels like a greatest hits collection. Her highest charting release on Billboard (peaking at #22) and containing her third Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance - Female (“Glass House”), Ani DiFranco’s ninth studio album shows the Little Folksinger grappling with her independent career bubbling up into the mainstream — dissection of her fashion choices, a new expanded listenership encroaching on the die-hards, examination of what it means to sell out — encapsulated in singalongs so indelible that they’re staples of her live set decades later. This 25th Anniversary Edition sees a new remaster by Heba Kadry, the addition of three bonus tracks mixed by Tchad Blake, and a new CD package and first-time release on vinyl (2 LP).
To make Little Plastic Castle, Ani returned to one of her favorite places to record in that era—the live-in studio the Congress House in Austin, Texas. In this relaxed setting she commented, "This album seemed to happen more organically than earlier studio releases." Ani is joined by drummer Andy Stochansky and bassist Jason Mercer who played with her on her 1997 tours, as well as bassist Sara Lee who toured with Ani in 1996. LPC also prominently features outside musicians including drummer Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, Indigo Girls), a horn section composed of three Austin session musicians who add flavor to "Little Plastic Castle" and "Deep Dish," and trumpeter Jon Hassell (Brian Eno, Talking Heads) providing the sustained subtle solo on the 14-minute final track "Pulse." The three bonus tracks are recordings of Ani playing with the rhythm section of Sara Lee and Jerry Marotta, a trio that never reassembled after their single day of tracking.
Though Ani described it as “the most light-hearted album I’ve made in a long time,” this record covers a wide range of topics — the impermanence of existence ("Fuel"), mutual respect ("Pixie"), forgiveness ("As Is"), drugs (“Two Little Girls”) — and emotions. From radio-friendly pop gems to the album’s closing spoken word and instrumental jam, the songs on this record offer up a surprise every time.
Chosen as one of the "Greatest Albums Made By Women" by NPR in 2017, Little Plastic Castle has proven to have an enduring legacy. Six songs from this record — the title track, Fuel, Gravel, As Is, Two Little Girls, and Swan Dive) remain in heavy rotation at live shows. Looking back, we see this record as the one that embodies Ani’s cultural impact — and has the most earworms.
“Young teenagers in suburban America soon began singing her songs at open mics, playing her music on their college radio stations and making sure their “great female singers” mix tapes all had an Ani song. The album’s lyrics dealt with infidelity, relationships across the gender spectrum and fighting for respect. And although some misunderstood her outspokenness for anger, many found her music completely cathartic, seeing themselves reflected in her pain and struggle.” - NPR Turning the Tables
Ani Difranco - Little Plastic Castle (25th Anniversary Edition)