Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Tyler Childers: Live on Red Barn Radio I & II [Thirty Tigers/Hickman Holler, 2018]
Born in 1991, Childers was no longer a kid in 2013 and 2014, when he recorded the two four-song EPs combined here. But he wasn't yet a man either. Instead, he was just old enough to know how good he was at the songwriting stuff even if he had trouble with the life stuff the songs drew on: "I believe if I could find my keys/I'd try to drive away" are the words of somebody who doesn't know whether "it's the wine or the coke/That makes her sound like her jaw is broke." Such well-turned dilemmas dominate this phase of his repertoire. The most manly is a heart-tugger about a pal's dead grandma: "Back when all us boys were tryin'/To make sense of all these strings/I can see her in the corner/Singin' along to all our crazy dreams." A-