Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Emily Duff: Razor Blade Smile [Mr. Mudshow Music, 2021]
When I played this album up against producer Eric Ambel's Del-Lords so as to comparison-shop the grooves he'd laid on this Flushing-born, punk-sparked, country-steeped roots-rocker, I made a surprising discovery: due to volume drummer Phil Cimino and Duff's own power-twanging vocals, her music moved better. In songs mapping a serial monogamy perpetually doomed to close down and move on, she treasures tenderness, tries not to go to bed mad, and figures "nicotine and waiting" could kill her eventually even so. Not once is she content to settle for an ending that leaves her "flat broke and busted." But that doesn't mean she's figured out a sure-shot way to avoid them. A-