Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Becky Warren

  • War Surplus [self-released, 2016] A-
  • Undesirable [self-released, 2018] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

War Surplus [self-released, 2016]
Warren is a singer-songwriter who put her music on hold in 2006, when her new husband came back from Iraq with PTSD. The marriage didn't survive, but they gave it a hard try, and years later Warren's solo debut, a muscular, bro-country sounding concept album where she sings five "June" songs and seven "Scott" songs, is born of that effort. June's a dive bar sweetheart whose love for her man is ironwood strong, Scott a casual patriot looking to escape the day-to-day who comes home with a mouth that explodes whenever he pulls the pin. Scott's memories of the girl who loved him best are painful. But they have nothing on the Iraq memories of "Stay Calm, Get Low," borrowed from memoirist Colby Buzzell, who liked Warren's adaptation so much he wrote liner notes. A-

Undesirable [self-released, 2018]
On 2016's War Surplus, Warren wrote and then sang both the husband and the wife songs on an autobiographical concept album about a marriage wrecked by Iraq PTSD. Here the psychological calisthenics aren't so tricky. She does sing "Carmen" as a longtime loser who's found a Neil Diamond fan who'll inspire him to make ends meet so he can move her into the house painted blue she deserves, and the chin-up narrator of the undeplorable West Virginia opener could be a coal miner. But mostly Warren just works her own changes on the fed-up love-getting-by songs that are a well-earned staple for so many Nashville feminists. It's a theme and mood she seems to have become quite familiar with. A-