Maricka Hackman I'm Not Your Man AMF Records
“When I was younger I wasn’t looking at Joni Mitchell. I was looking at Nirvana thinking, ‘I wanna be like that!’” This quote from Marika Hackman’s provides useful insight into the metamorphosis of the British songwriter’s sound between her debut LP, 2015’s We Slept at Last, and I’m Not Your Man. Where once there were dark, rarefied folk atmospheres, now there’s a louder sense of life and energy, shaped in the form of an unintended concept album about the different stages of a relationship, from falling in love to the goodbye that follows the harsh realisation that it’s just not meant to be.
Hackman isn’t alone on this journey: she’s teamed up with London indie rock four piece The Big Moon for a number of tracks here. It seems to have been more than just a professional liaison, with the group’s undeleted live laughter setting a friendly tone of solidarity. And it isn’t just a mood: the lyrics, too, are coming from a free and empowered woman, unafraid to write about love and sexuality in the most open way: ‘I hope your boyfriend doesn’t mind/ You tell me that you love me every time/ I held his girl in my hands/ She likes it ’cause they’re softer than a man’s,’ she sings on the opener Boyfriend.
If the 90s influences are unavoidable when listening to the album’s 13 tracks, there’s just as much of Justine Frischmann as there is Courtney Love in Hackman’s delivery. Although there are moments of vaunted grunge rock aggression, Hackman’s more delicate sound still echoes at times, especially in songs like Cigarette and Apple Tree, while the the album finishes with the faintly psychedelic Blahblahblah and the strings-assisted I’m Not Your Man. And while we might not get a happily-ever-after by the end of I’m Not Your Man, the concluding impression is that of a deserving talent making a step down the path towards greatness