Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Kirby Heard: Mama's Biscuits [CDBaby, 2019]
Plain. Really plain. Plain even by the standards of her folk-Americana niche. So plain that if the "Butter churnin' and a wood fire up the flue" of "Montgomery County" doesn't convince you, "Slingshot" with its squirrel for dinner will. Did me, anyway--I felt sure this was the musical autobiography of the back cover's aggressively plain middle-aged Carolina woman with thick brown hair and a toothy smile. Only then I delved around for some bio and found a LinkedIn pitch for a Greensboro "customer service agent," a photo where a sleeveless top reveals many tattoos, and a spare webpage averring that Heard migrated "from a big city in the Midwest to a sleepy southern town, and the love of her life." Hmm. No wonder "Caroline" begins "My home was in the Midwest flatlands." And that cliched "Who do I see in my mirror/Is she the same as me"? A real question that undermines the simplicity the sure melodies evoke and exploit. As do "Get (The Hell) Off My Farm," where she spies on the intruder via "infrared," and "You Don't Have to Know Jesus," where an unbeliever claims the right to write gospel songs. A-