Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

American Epic: The Best of Country [Lo-Max/Third Man/Columbia/Legacy, 2017]
This is less revelatory or deeply satisfying than the blues edition--the talent pool is smaller and shallower and Harry Smith long ago made the most of it. But sparked by the jaunty dance instrumentals "Ladies on the Steamboat" (hiya), "Brown Skin Gal (Down the Lane)" (hmm), and "The Lost Child" (huh?), the non-Smith tunes that emerge second half hold their own. So for me, this might well replace Legacy's White Country Blues whenever I need reminding that the Trumper-spawning white supremacists who lost the Civil War had their moments of blessed foolishness, bemused melancholy, and supernal grace. For sure those moments flowered into some Johnny Cashes, some Doug Joneses. But don't kid yourself that the process was close to automatic. B+