Sarah Dougher has all the credentials to be a feminist icon. An openly lesbian singer-songwriter on the North Carolina-based label Mr. Lady, she's also a committed social activist, a college professor, and a member of the bands Cadallaca (with Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker) and the Crabs. Little wonder, then, that gay.com cites her as one of its "Women We Love."
So you enter a Dougher record knowing you're going to get thoughtful meditations on life, but what's surprising is how much fun she makes angst sound. With an endearingly thin, jangly, indie-pop sound reminiscent of cult heroes like the Nerves and the early dB's, Dougher's third solo record makes dark admissions like "Come home drunk and want to fight, I know I am a fool" and "You treat me like I'm uninvited" feel like pure three-minute bliss, teen thrills delivered by a tough-minded adult.
Dougher's voice is plain, but expressive: equal parts Liz Phair, Mary Timony, and Tucker. It's a dose of reality that undercuts the frequent bounciness of her music, and makes it more complex than its sources. Proving that she's not limited by the indie-rock aesthetic, she even demonstrates her sense of musical history by reviving the Allen Toussaint-penned, early '60s R&B obscurity "It's Raining." In Dougher's hands, it becomes the post-modern, lesbian love lament it was never meant to be.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.