There's something uniquely autobiographical about the Indigo Girls' tune "The Girl With the Weight of the World in Her Hands," the final cut of the group's latest album, "Nomads * Indians * Saints."
For the Atlanta folk duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, consciousness in actions and music has become a way of life since breaking out of the Southeast with a self-titled LP two years ago.
The Indigo Girls seem to pop up wherever there's a rally or a chance to make a political statement for a cause they support.
"Some of our critics have said that there is a saturation point and we're reaching it," Ray said last week in a phone interview. "But we don't feel like that's true at all. There are so many problems that we don't feel like we can do enough."
Ray said that whenever she attends a consciousness-raising event for one cause, inevitably, there is someone there from another organization that is just as worthy and she finds time to support it.
So far the Girls have appeared for AIDS benefits, homeless people, the Children's Health Fund, pro-choice rallies and the Earth Day concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion in April.
That was their last local performance and they only played for 20 minutes, but this week they return to the area for full shows at D.A.R. Constitution Hall on Saturday and at Painters Mill on Tuesday.
The band's new album is another collection of acoustic stories that all begin as pieces of poetry. As Ray said, ''When I was a kid, I'd sit around writing poetry all the time. I guess nothing has changed.''
Not surprisingly, the album's first single, "Hammer and a Nail," is about "not being intimidated by all the problems of the world, and the idea that every one of us has a contribution to make. It's about not putting things off, about getting down to work."
Also appearing at Painters Mill are Extreme, Danger Danger and the London Quireboys (Dec. 2) and Crack the Sky (Dec. 28).
Coming to Hammerjacks are Van Zant and Michelle Malone (Saturday), Mojo Nixon, the Dead Milkman and Cavedogs (Sunday), the Hooters (Dec. 1) and Wrathchild America (Dec. 2).
The O'Jays and Regina Belle share a bill at the Lyric Opera House Saturday.
Coming to the Capital Centre are Judas Priest, Testament and Megadeth (Dec. 9).
Max's On Broadway hosts Human Radio (Sunday), Wrathchild America acoustic show (Wednesday), Buddy Guy (Nov. 29), Innocence Mission (Dec. 14), Commander Cody (Dec. 15) and Hot Tuna (Dec. 16).
Coming to Shriver Hall are Wynton Marsalis and Carl Filipiak (Dec. 9).
Ritchie Coliseum in College Park is the closest approach for one of rock's hottest acts, Living Colour (Dec. 4).