Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Kasey Chambers: Barricades & Brickwalls [Warner Bros., 2002]
I got into the lizard-slow "Nullarbor Song" only after determining that Nullarbor is the southern Australian desert, its name Latin for "no trees"--did wonders for the "river of tears" line. That's the kind of price you pay for the saving strangeness built into Chambers's achieved, imagined stylistic commitment. Sure the outback can turn you into a country singer, especially if your dad is a professional folkie who's romanticized the natural his whole life (and you're not really a rebel). Sure the difficulty of the leap can mitigate the folk/country corn factor, especially if your voice is a wonder of nature (and you have enough sass in you). But represent your roots honestly, as you're smart enough to know you must, and sometimes you'll lose the folks you romanticize. A-