Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Iris DeMent: The Way I Should [Warner Bros., 1996]
Ooh, ick--four protest songs. One about sexual abuse--isn't that a little old? And what right does she have to put down upwardly mobiles with that "Quality Time" cliche? Only maybe she does have the right--maybe she's a better person than you, me, or the striver next door. Anyway, intellectual originality isn't her stock in trade. She's just a singer with the God-given ability to convey commonplace feelings as if they belong to her, as they do to all of us. And that these feelings should now include righteous indignation only proves that she's alive in history. Who else could intimate raging obscenity by putting the words "ass," "crap," and "damn" in the same song? Only the woman who still adduces home, marriage, and spiritual struggle with the unaffected simplicity you loved before she belonged to the world. A