When: Fri., July 21, 9 p.m. 2017
Folk music has long been a haven for strong, political women. The folk revival of the 1960s took place during a time of political turmoil and protest, and it feels as though we're living in another era marked by the same spirit. Durham folk-rock group Hardworker is acutely aware of society's current ills and has put them into song on its debut LP, Go Alone.
Sus Long and Mike Conner began as a duo, performing quiet acoustic sets and eventually added Danny Nowell on guitar and vocalist Alex Treyz to achieve a bigger sound. The album, engineered at the Fidelitorium in Kernersville by Mitch Easter and produced by Look Homeward's Alex Bingham, is an upbeat mix of folk, rock, and Americana, bolstered by an unrelenting feminist edge.
"Woman's Weapon" is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of the danger of falling in love: "A woman in love is a woman in trouble," Long sings, and on "Look More Like a Girl" she inveighs against gender stereotypes. Long's songwriting is quick-witted and sharp. Her passionate, forceful voice oscillates between a pleading roughness and a more polished, melodic delivery. Listening to these steady instrumentals, one can almost forget that Hardworker's lyrics amount to fighting words in this tense political climate. The radical indie folk band has progressed immensely from its earlier work, filling out its songs and getting much, much louder.
But Long also shows off her softer side as she sings about the desire for human connection in "Lost Time." "Another time and place would be easier, but it would be ours," she laments. "I like you, I like you, I like you so far," she sings, conjuring the beginning of a relationship, before it becomes clear that it won't work out. "Dothan," too, reminisces on past partnerships and how she lost her mind, "not all at once, but a little at a time," as one does when a relationship is a sinking ship (or now, when every next action from our government rapidly chips away at the nation's sanity). —Kat Harding