Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Georgia Blue [Southeastern, 2021]
First let's specify that this guest-chocked collection of Georgia covers isn't what's being called a "charity album." As a title that takes the "S" out of "blues" indicates, it's a voting rights album--one Isbell conceived while Biden was saving democracy as best he could by winning Georgia, with proceeds divided among Black Voters Matter, Stacey Abrams's Fair Fight outfit, and Georgia STAND-UP (Strategic Alliance for New Directions and Unified Policies). So just by way of saying thanks you have every reason to buy it unheard, as I did. This doesn't means I have to like Cat Power as per the gifted Amanda Shires any more than I used to as per the annoying Chan Marshall. Nor need I feign conversion to the Indigo Girls. Nonetheless, there are musical strokes aplenty here. My favorite is Brittney Spencer's feminist "makes all that money to steal from another man" revision of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World." But I also dig the way 400 Unit stalwart Sadler Vaden spruces up his old mates Drivin' and Cryin' and Adia Victoria embellishes Precious Bryant's Piedmont blues "The Truth" and Isbell himself cherishes the earnest conjugal heartsong Otis Redding and Jerry Butler cooked up for him under the title "I've Been Loving You Too Long." And then there's "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," which hasn't lost a step in what is now half a century. A-