Holly Near

Fire in the Rain

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Moving beyond the discovery phase of her conversion to lesbianism, as chronicled on her previous album, Imagine My Surprise!, Holly Near explored the limits of her new emotional world on its follow-up, Fire in the Rain. Taking a pop-rock musical approach for the most part, she devoted half of the album to songs about relationships and half to political/philosophical concerns. The love songs ranged from expressions of contentment to guarded criticisms (she doesn't seem to have found it as easy to dump on a female lover as she used to on males) to the extended partnering of the album-closing "Golden Thread," and which argued that non-exclusive sexual relationships were natural for women. The political material included songs about jobs ("I Got Trouble," a rewrite of the earlier "Laid Off," and "Working Woman," which treated sexual harassment with an oddly jaunty musical arrangement), opposition to capital punishment and the military ("Foolish Notion"), and opposition to nuclear power ("Ain't Nowhere You Can Run"). In contrast to all that protest, "Wrap the Sun Around You" was an attempted anthem about freedom, and "Voices" looked for inspiration from old women, American Indians, and children. Nevertheless, the overall mood of the album was embattled, as the songwriter seemed to be tiptoeing through an emotional minefield on the one hand, while impatiently scorning her political opponents on the other.

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