I was happy to read some of the lower reviews here, some criticism to mix it up. Any old fan can just gush on about how AWESOME there fav artist is, and certainly Ani has more than her share of fanatical followers. I was one of them; now I've moved on to more vital artists.
Most real Ani fans agree that "Out of Range" is her best, most gutsy, accessible album; the best album to start with. But I like to champion "Puddle Dive", for the simple reason that it best shows off her skills as a songwriter. Listen to those lyrics-- they're about nothing! Tiny everyday insignificant moments-- getting a speeding ticket, snot, coffee, making a new friend. And yet that's the talent of a songwriter, to take those moments and make them universal and important, to fit them into the bigger picture. All these songs just seem to fit together for me, as much a real album as she's done. And its a great snapshot of her in transition. "Puddle Dive" still astonishes me at times.
I haven't bought or even listened to anything since "Castles"-- she's just too prolific, and there's so much other important music out there. But her first six+ albums, all the way up to "Pretty Girl", are incredible, important stuff.