Taking a dramatic new musical direction, Marika Hackman’s second album boldly covers new territory, creating a defiant and honest record.
Hackman has come a long way since releasing her debut album back in 2015, and her second album opens with a determination to shake off ‘the trappings of being compared to every other fey English rose singer-songwriter lady with a guitar’.
Noticeably more upbeat that its predecessor, I’m Not Your Man is Hackman’s first album under new management. Produced by Charlie Andrew, the album possesses a greater authenticity, with an unspoken feeling that Hackman is in full control of the sound.
The opening track, ‘Boyfriend’, is the first single from the album. Beginning to the sound of laughter, the song explores perceptions of bisexuality. You can almost imagine Hackman taking the listener as her confidante, whispering sardonic asides and laughing behind her hands.
Her current single, ‘My Lover Cindy’, touches on the throwaway nature of short-term love. The song keeps it light-hearted, although lyrically it feels like it’s aiming to make the listener feel uncomfortable, or encouraging them to think.
‘Cigarette’ is another standout track, beautiful but very dark. In an approach which is reminiscent of ‘The Hypnotist’s Son’ by Emmy the Great, Hackman mixes calm acoustic guitar with lyrics which suppress anger and frustration in a manipulative relationship. This song stays with you for a long time after one listen.
Hackman integrates stunning harmonies throughout the album, which is most effective in ‘Good Intentions’. Melodically adventurous, the dissonance used in the refrain creates a sense of abandon, collecting momentum early on in the record.
Most tracks, including ‘Time’s Been Reckless’, ‘Eastbound Train’ and ‘Apple Tree’ are instantly likeable, but the old drag which made me dislike some of her first album occasionally creeps back into other parts. The chorus of ‘Violet’ is a particular example where the soporific slowness of the repetitive lyrics is hard to listen to.
The tail end of the album lets it down a little, as songs like ‘Majesty’ and ‘I’d Rather Be With Them’ are easily forgettable.
Overall, a mixed bag, but a predominantly good one. Hackman is best initially in her more energetic, fearless songs, which are concentrated mainly within the earlier tracks, and her liberated new approach to songwriting is applaudable. On the other hand, her quieter, more soul-searching songs, such as ‘Gina’s World’ and ‘Cigarette’ come through to be her best, offering something truly meaningful.