Both Saliers and Ray agree that Despite Our Differences, the 10th Indigo Girls studio album, is a record defined by change and newness.
The tunes on Differences are certainly a batch worthy of that effort. Plainspoken yet rich with literary detail, they address the growing unrest in the world, as well as the smaller push-and-pull that takes place every day between two people. Opener ‘Pendulum Swinger’ takes on institutional sexism and what the Girls view as President Bush’s wrongheaded approach to the war on terrorism. ‘Even though it’s a pop song,’ Saliers acknowledges, ‘it’s saying you’re not gonna win this with a bullwhip or posing with your hands on your hips like Mr. Tough-Guy President. The only way to stop this madness is through love. That’s a simple sentiment, but I believe it at my core.’ ‘I Believe in Love,’ a gorgeous folk-soul lullaby, proves the point with its message of tolerance and the necessity of understanding ‘despite our differences’. In ‘Little Perennials,’ the album’s lively lead single, Ray describes ‘getting something for all this love’s labor’ over a throbbing backbeat embroidered with strummy fuzz-roots guitars and swirling, helium-high keyboards.
Though she admits she’s not one for making a big fuss over a milestone like the Indigos’ 20th anniversary of record-making, Ray says this new chapter in the band’s career does reaffirm the principal that’s always driven the duo. ‘It’s all about living in the moment that you’re in and trying to make it better than the moment that came before,’ she explains, pointing for example to the band’s ongoing work with Honor the Earth, a Minneapolis-based non-profit dedicated to energy justice within the Native American community. ‘We just want to keep evolving – there isn’t a point where that doesn’t apply.’