Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2013-03-05

2013-03-05

Ashley Monroe: Like a Rose (Warner Bros., 2013) Run through these nine originals a few times and eventually you'll accept that the Pistol Annies are a trio for good reason and her solo debut is unlikely to top "Two Weeks Late," which is about the rent only in the end it isn't. Then slowly you'll realize just how rare it is for a major-label Nashville hopeful to put this much care into every song even if you're not convinced by the one that connects whipped cream and whips. Then you'll check out co-writes--Guy Clark, Lori McKenna, hmm. And then you'll wonder who Sally Barris is, 'cause she helped out on a heartsong called "Used" that completes if not tops "Two Weeks Late." A-

Kellie Pickler: 100 Proof (XIX/BNA, 2012) American Idol haunts this artistic breakthrough, a sense that she'll always sing what she's told no matter how many composition credits she bags--six out of 11 here, including only one of the three tough-talking openers without which I'd never have gotten to where "Long As I Never See You Again" started showing its muscle. But if making nice comes all too naturally, the ones about the daughter she doesn't have and the father she was stuck with say that love is something she's willing to tough out. B+

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