Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Lori McKenna: Christmas Is Right Here [CN/Thirty Tigers, 2021]
Braver, sadder, and of course more positive than the Pistol Annies' half-sassed seasonal placemat, this would be the best album of new Christmas songs in years if it wasn't an EP, so let's just say it is anyway. Since few songwriters have extracted more detail from family life, why shouldn't McKenna generate her personal holiday catalogue? And since few are more modest, why shouldn't she dwarf the PaulMcCartney opener with five of her own? "There isn't one un'Grateful' bone in my body," she's lucky and caring enough to swear at the close. But because we've all seen death, "Even if you wouldn't change one single thing about your life/It's a matter of time, you can't make it through Christmas Without Crying." When you're stuck in Nashville in December, the family you have in Texas and Georgia might as well live at the "North Pole." And "Hail Mary" means to remind us just how hard is is for any mother to watch her son go off on his own. A