Last year, Laura Marling released a podcast series called Reversal of the Muse wherein she talked with other female musicians, producers and studio technicians about women in the industry–or the lack thereof. The podcast, especially episodes featuring Marika Hackman, focused on female presentation in the music industry and the tendency for criticism to sexualize female muscians, sometimes at the expense of analyzing musical ability. Hackman’s sophomore album I Am Not Your Man is the musical elucidation of that discussion. Preceded by an interactive album art website, much of the imagery throughout the album represents a rejection of the patriarchy, but Hackman’s overall message goes deeper, reflecting the struggles women face – in relationships and in a male-dominated society – through blunt narratives.

Whether the stories on this album come from personal experiences or not, these 15 tracks heavily focus on femininity, relationships, romance and emotional breakdowns. But this being Hackman, her lyrics are biting, full of acerbic and witty lines. Take “Boyfriend,” for example, with its wicked, lustful competition with a boy for his girlfriend churning out lyrics like “It’s fine ’cause I am just a girl/ ‘It doesn’t count’/ He knows a woman needs a man to make her shout.” This quickly escalates to, “No one takes us seriously just because I wear a dress.” The commentary on the male fantasy view of lesbian relationships is brazen. Contrast that none too subtle critique with Hackman’s boastful chorus on “My Lover Cindy”: “‘Cause I’m a greedy pig/ I’m gonna get my fill/ I’m gonna keep my eyes on the prize/ And I’ll suck you dry, I will.”

Hackman has a disaffected vocal delivery that oscillates from dreary to angelic, and that blends perfectly with the array of tracks about everything from love to ennui. Second single “My Lover Cindy” is a fascinating track for two reasons: it’s straight-up summery guitar bliss, and the lyrics reveal desperation and desire despite Hackman’s blasé delivery. On paper, the song is devastating: “I’m no pariah, but I’ll try to pretend/ I hope you keep your distance now and then/ Same prognosis, it was fated from the start/ We could be together, take my heart.” But the blend of Soph Nathan’s whimsical guitar and backing vocals from Juliette Jackson et al. turns that desperation into a downright fun track.

Whereas Hackman’s debut album We Slept at Last was an extremely ethereal, stripped down acoustic offering, I’m Not Your Man sees her recruit a full backing band, The Big Moon. This gives the entire album a fuller feel as well as serving Hackman’s new mode of indie rock veering towards ’90s grunge. “Good Intentions” gives an early glimpse into the band’s indulgent gristle and feedback, which still manages to balance with Hackman’s airy vocals, although there are moments that devolve into wailing screams. The guitar on “Violet,” however, builds on a hushed bedroom sound in the first half to a truly grunge pop-worthy finale, a prelude to the clanging of “Blahblahblah.” “Time’s Been Reckless,” with Celia Archer’s bassline front and center along with Nathan’s crisp guitar lines, is a much breezier effort that twists cheerleader chants into a melancholy track.

Describing the genesis of the album, Hackman explained that the title can mean “I’m not your man, I’m your woman” or even “I’m not a part of this.” The latter hits hard on the still outsider nature of a female singer-songwriter in the modern music industry. I’m Not Your Man is an unapologetically lengthy rejection of all of that, and one that goes a long way to show the tone and range of Hackman’s music beyond dark acoustics and into a world of electric guitars that can lilt and rage along with the shamelessly blunt singer. It’s less of a reinvention and more of a defiant resolve to create the music she wants to create, genre pigeonholing be damned.

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