Boston-based songwriter Melissa Ferrick (pictured) and Chicago's Anne Heaton both showcased their skills at this year's Folk Alliance Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, but folk is only one way to describe what they do. Ferrick appeared in "Women in Rock" features in the early '90s alongside Melissa Etheridge and Liz Phair. She had a couple of great records (Massive Blur and Willing to Wait) on Atlantic back then and has been doing just fine on the DIY, post-Lilith Fair circuit ever since. She can make an acoustic guitar moan, but her latest effort, Listen Hard, features rockers that simply lay her soul bare. Heaton's songs, though gentler, have a similar lyrical burn; fans of women who push their guitars hard and write tough, introspective songs that simply sting (Kristie Stremel fans, take note) will want to be there.