Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Carter Family

  • Can the Circle Be Unbroken [Columbia/Legacy, 2000] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Can the Circle Be Unbroken [Columbia/Legacy, 2000]
Although the Carters' selling point is repertoire, their craft is Mother Maybelle's deceptively simple bedrock guitar and vocals that shade matter-of-fact mountain ballad convention. These mostly 1935 recordings are slower and more forceful than the classic 1927-1929 RCAs, substituting audible confidence for sprightly charm and repeating only three tunes from Anchored in Love and My Clinch Mountain Home. If this "Keep on the Sunny Side" could be sunnier, that "Lulu Walls" could be droller. Especially for nonfolkies who haven't suffered through too many fools clunking them up, a great bunch of songs. A