Not Afraid to Love (Esther Records)
Yer Girlfriend

By Kory Wilcoxon

About eight years ago, I went to see a since-forgotten Georgia band that played, as the local newspaper so delicately put it, "feminist rock." There are two things I remember about that concert: It was my first introduction to lesbianism, and the opening band kicked some major butt.

That opening band was Yer Girlfriend, and their new album, Not Afraid to Love, demonstrates a multi-dimensional musical approach that goes far beyond what I remember from that concert.

The album is aptly titled. Not only are these six women not afraid to love their way, they are not afraid to speak out about issues of discrimination and equality. While other artists might prefer to keep their sexual orientation hush-hush for fear of backlash or non-acceptance, Yer Girlfriend makes no bones about who they are and what they stand for. Any thoughts to the contrary should be quashed about 60 seconds into the first song, "Fairness," with the line "they say that we want special rights/ we just want to be free."

The disc is actually divided into two parts: songs that deal with discrimination and lesbian issues - the in-your-face "Get Over It," the tongue-in-cheek "Xtra Bedroom Blues" — and songs that deal strictly with love in all forms.

It is with these latter songs that Yer Girlfriend really shines. The songs are beautifully written and recorded, and speak at an emotional level not usually reached by other musicians. Songs like "Carry Me" and "Your Eyes" ache with sincerity, and the band has a way of making you feel their pain and exhilaration.

At the same time, the band smoothly conveys their frustrations of loving in a heterosexual society. The line in "Carry Me" that says "Lovers walk hand in hand, floating on the waves, playing in the sand/ I wonder why we can't do the same?" really amplifies the struggles these women must go through to live their lives the way they want.

Besides being a strong statement, Not Afraid to Love is a compelling listen. It is too bad that these women's messages, which easily transcend boundaries and stereotypes to provide universal meaning, will never reach the size of audiences they deserve without some major attitude adjustments in the powers that be. In the meantime, more power to Yer Girlfriend. Some of us are listening.