Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Amanda Shires: Take It Like a Man [ATO, 2022]
Shires has told interviewers that several of the 10 songs on this album reflect dicey patches in her marriage to Jason Isbell. But that's no reason to get literal about who's who or what's what. Ultimately they're songs, which like all works of art generate formal imperatives that seldom jibe perfectly with the life experiences that got them started. They don't even leave much room for Shires's violin, and often retain a rawness that prevents them from snapping shut cleverly the way good little well-turned cheating songs do. Several project a sexuality all the more convincing because it's so raw; others end in the emotional middle, before the resolution we're craving is achieved; quite a few feel profound. The part I like best comes dead center, when one that ends "You could say it's all my fault/We just couldn't get along/And if anyone asks I'll say what's true/And really it's I don't know" leads immediately to one that begins "Just when you think you've had enough/All you could take/When you think you've got no more heart left to break/Here he comes." A