Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-07-19

2011-07-19

Dave Alvin: Eleven Eleven (Yep Roc, 2011) To call this the best record of his solo career isn't to claim it's great, it's to reckon that it's pretty darn good. At 55, young Dave has found his voice, which echoes somewhere on the outskirts of Johnny Cash territory, and the songs strike old notes so truly they could be new: loner quests (a half-blind Golden Glover, a bounty hunter with nothing to lose), lost bard (Johnny Ace this time), union man (he beat U.S. Steel and got beat anyway), sex in the present (he loves her dirty nightgown) and past (one inamorata was a union maid on the side). He even hooks up with his brother for some forced jocularity that's the truest note of all. Remember when Phil was supposed to be the singer? A-

Jill Scott: The Light of the Sun (Blues Babe/Warner Bros., 2011) I agree, men are dogs. But it gets my radar in a lather when this loving, lovable woman structures her 2007 album along a break-up's narrative arc and then four years later the same thing happens twice--only the first guy leaves her with a boychild who, let's be candid, she loves more unreservedly than she has any grown man on record. For instance, Anthony Hamilton, with whom she shares the highly unconvincing "So in Love" duet right after a conversion experience of an opener called "Blessed" and right before a well-nigh womanist Eve duet. Other boons in a year when Adele has positioned herself as the queen of solemn soul: the sub-two-minute "Quick," about her babydaddy's attention span, and the four-minutes-plus "Making You Wait," about how she needs to find out whether he's nuts first. Also the Doug E. Fresh duet. A-

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