Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Shawn Colvin: Fat City [Columbia, 1992]
This ambitious sophomore wins the prize--the female postfolkie you're too bored to hate. The digitalized Suzanne Vega is wisely popwise and the bionic Joan Baez positively swangin' by comparison. Matching strong, undistinguished voice to literate, undistinguished verse, Colvin is like a young Joni Mitchell without swoops or self-invention. And lest you riposte that young Joni Mitchell beats old Joni Mitchell, Columbia doles out production chores to old Joni Mitchell's bass-playing husband, who drags the ordinary down toward an offensively well-groomed studio folk-rock that combines the smugness of '70s El Lay with the overstatement of '80s Megapop--and later for the '90s. C