Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Justin Farren: Pretty Free [Bad Service Badger, 2020]
The fourth album by a solo-acoustic Sacramento road dog whose first three are almost as precise and articulate but less compelling and detailed begins with a startled compare-and-contrast glance at his old Costco membership card and dims only occasionally thereafter. Most of his songs register as autobiographical, reflecting on elders gone, misadventures relived, and the married-with-children life; all are performed with palpable care and quiet pizzazz. Now 38, Farren will never be famous. But he's clearly earned the regional fanbase he continues to service in the ancient yellow truck we meet in "Two Wheel Drive and Japanese," which takes place when he was 16 and stupid. A-