Singer-songwriter Laura Burhenn is one of the more politically vocal artists, but she prefers a “let’s talk about this” or “please consider” approach to the more in-your-face attitude dominating today’s political landscape.
Last year’s Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration and countering Women’s March inspired the recent album Be Here Now for her musical project The Mynabirds as a means of trying to make sense of the country’s seemingly sharp turn away from the more inclusive Barack Obama administration. Over a year later from those two events, Burhenn’s voice continues to reject discrimination and hate whilst persisting and staying hopeful.
“Keep on keeping on,” urged Burhenn, one of her two core music themes that she stated during a concert on January 25 at San Francisco’s intimate Café du Nord. And it wouldn’t be long before she performed her recent album’s title track to help set the show’s mood. With lyrics like “Everybody, everybody stand together / Everybody stand your ground,” Burhenn didn’t mince words about encouraging certain actions and efforts for both the affected and interested.
But Burhenn’s candidness and warmth help her avoid being preachy. Sure, she’ll sing lyrics like “My heart’s full of love and all kinds of peace / But I think even I could punch a Nazi in the face” (“Golden Age”) and receive an obligatory applause, but then she’ll offer a personal story about her father coming out of the closet that served as the inspiration for the fan-requested “Mightier than the Sword.” Burhenn didn’t perform the latter song, but the story helped illustrate the values she holds most dear such as compassion and safe spaces.
For those wondering if such a show would be a snooze-fest, I guarantee it wasn’t. Burhenn navigated the waters between poignant and fun with aplomb. When it was almost time to break out the tissue box, she would increase the tempo with a head-bopper (“Witch Wolf”) or defiant anthem (“Generals”). At one point, she invited singer Sonia Kreitzer, of the opening act Doe Paoro, onstage for a rousing number.
It was a surprisingly breezy show because it wasn’t long before Burhenn and her mates briefly exited and returned to the stage for the encore (“Apples and Oranges” and “Wild Hearts”). A good end to a thoughtful and positive performance.