Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Hayes Carll: What It Is [Dualtone, 2019]
Three years past the hooklessly downhearted Lovers and Leavers, the 43-year-old Texan songslinger grows up just like he hoped he would. "Beautiful Thing," "I Will Stay," and "None'ya" meld rapture, perseverance, and a sense of humor into a credible semblance of connubial progress, "Times Like These" and "Wild Pointy Finger" address the bifurcated politics any conscious Texan had better set his or her mind to, and "Fragile Men" mocks sexism with the casual authority of a rip-roaring Texan male who respects "Jesus and Elvis" whether he believes in them or not. Carll's music per se still doesn't rise above solid as often as it might. Soulwise, however, he's higher than he's ever been. B+