Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Lori McKenna: The Balladeer [CN/Thirty Tigers, 2020]
Without benefit of a single song as complex as "Humble and Kind" or "The Bird and the Rifle," Stoughton Mass.'s poet of Nashville's veriest verities--namely, family and the steady passage of time--assembles the most consistently top-notch album of her late-blooming career. Only the unassumingly twisty "This Town Is a Woman" and the bigamously two-timing "Two Birds" mine the modest metaphorical complexity of past stunners like "Girl Crush" and "The Bird and the Rifle." But just by returning to familiar themes like her mother's death and marriage's set-tos, she convinces you that the corny title of "When You're My Age" deserves the utopian wish it sets up: "I hope the world is kinder than it seems to be right now." A