Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ashley Monroe: Like a Rose [Warner Bros., 2013]
Run through these nine originals a few times and eventually you'll accept that the Pistol Annies are a trio for good reason and her solo debut is unlikely to top "Two Weeks Late," which is about the rent only in the end it isn't. Then slowly you'll realize just how rare it is for a major-label Nashville hopeful to put this much care into every song even if you're not convinced by the one that connects whipped cream and whips. Then you'll check out co-writes--Guy Clark, Lori McKenna, hmm. And then you'll wonder who Sally Barris is, 'cause she helped out on a heartsong called "Used" that completes if not tops "Two Weeks Late." A-