Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Derek Senn: The Big Five-0 [self-released, 2022]
Since the fourth and best of his steadily improving run of DIY folk-rock albums foregrounds the biggest b-day in his now definitively middle-aged life, it seemed time to Google Senn some, which yielded two facts: 1) he has his own real-estate business in San Luis Obispo and 2) present company excluded, his chief press support comes from Netherlands-based Ljubinko Zivkovic in the contrarian Americana U.K. Opening with an excellent batch of pandemic songs--"Quarantine" and "Viruses Get Viruses" surround a bereft one called "Don't Shut Down My Surf Break" ("You can unemploy me deny my PPP/Shut down the slaughterhouse I'll go without steak")--he also addresses women's rights in the Texas legislature, vasectomy meeting scrotum, the wages of the Eritrean War, and a romance that goes south in Alaska. It seemed to me he was singing more evocatively as well. But only when he closed with "Use Me" was I convinced. A-