Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Lucinda Williams: Good Souls Better Angels [Highway 20, 2020]
Leave it to an unabashed egoist to voice the anti-Trump wrath timider songslingers don't have the gall for, and to save the direct hit "Man Without a Soul" for track three so as to ramp it up with the defiant "You Can't Rule Me" and the bitter "Bad News Blues": "Liars and lunatics/Fools and thieves/And clowns and hypocrites" whose "Gluttony and greed/And that ain't the worst of it" are everywhere--in her car and in the bar and at the damn laundromat. Then it's on to our unnamed president, about whom she's not the first to observe that "All the money in the world/Will never fill that hole," just the first to attach a tune to it, and with other points to add at that. Some of the bleakness that ensues is personal: memory-stoked nightmares if not nightmare memories, songs in a second person I hope isn't camouflage. But then there's an updated "John the Revelator" where God is "spinning the world like a top": "Liars are venerated/Losers congratulated/Cheaters celebrated/Thieves compensated/Vultures satiated/Murderers exonerated/Guilty vindicated/Innocent incarcerated." Her voice and her guitar attack have thickened. But that just adds to the outraged gravity of an album that I wish had more competition. A