An LGBT indie folk rock singer whose previous touring experience includes opening for Laura Marling? Marika Hackman’s resume is enticing, to say the least, as the combination is incredibly unexpected and I am thoroughly pleased to have the opportunity to dive in and see what she has to offer. Thankfully, her new album I’m Not Your Man, mostly succeeds in matching the expectations made simply by the premise. It’s a fun, incredibly witty expedition into the mindset of Hackman and her unconventional take on life.
“Boyfriend” is a frustrating romp through patriarchy and the male gaze. Hackman’s seeing a girl who’s already seeing a man, but the man doesn’t mind because a lesbian relationship “doesn’t count.” At first, it seems that Hackman isn’t concerned about this, because she gets a chance to see the girl with impunity, but the relationship gets serious. It doesn’t matter since “no one takes us seriously just because I wear a dress.” The song intends to wind up the listener, which it should because the circumstance is so frustrating. It’s hard not to recommend for the perspective, alone.
Though it’s easy to focus solely on the lyrics, as their structure and play on words stand on their own. Hackman’s voice and guitar arrangements keep the songs glued to the head. She has a soft voice that drifts, and occasionally stings when she screams in “Good Intentions.” The guitar arrangements, when not strumming to a ballad, bounce to Hackman’s story. The album is very much a lighter version, musically and emotionally, of a Courtney Barnett album.
“My Lover Cindy” is a joy to listen to. The guitar chords and light drumming builds a summer afternoon vibe. This all builds a structure for Hackman to talk about her love for a certain Cindy which is described with heavy emphasis on the carnal side. “Cause I’m a greedy pig, I’m gonna get my fill,” pretty much sums up Hackman’s intentions as she lusts after this woman, who she doesn’t know would stay with her for very long (“I can go for a couple of weeks and the feeling’s calcified”). It’s sexual by being critical of one’s own sexual intentions, and it works.
The lyrics and Hackman’s performance provides a perfect backdrop for every scenario. “Violet” is a droning and vividly descriptive love for someone’s mouth, which only really comes out as sexy for Hackman. “Time’s Been Reckless” is a jaunty song about lovers being unnecessarily honest about each other’s flaws in regards to, as the title implies, how age has detracted their looks. The disparity between the music and the lyrics is not always present, as some songs go for the familiar guitar strumming personal reflection. Those particular songs still have their twists.
Listening to this album is a treat for folk enthusiasts. It’s witty, jumpy, and very introspective. It’s not perfect, though. One of the main issues with the album is that it runs a little too long and the latter half gets bogged down by fatigue. It’s not that the songs are bad, but after a while, you realize there isn’t much more to figure out. Thus, you’re sure to get everything you want out of it if you’re not into the whole album. Marika Hackman is a talented lyricist and some of her instrumentation is quite catchy and, for lack of a better term, really cool. Not every personal dissection needs to be depressing and it’s a treat to see Hackman go that direction. The guitar chords are really awesome, folks. GOOD.