Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ani DiFranco: Little Plastic Castle [Righteous Babe, 1998]
Here's hoping she gets used to fame, a theme the coolest new-famous are now canny enough to sidestep or caricature. But DiFranco doesn't have much use for ordinary standards of cool, which is one reason she's new-famous, and for the nonce, she can do no wrong. Always underlying her bull-session eloquence, a hook no matter the message, is the supple, seductive, self-amused musicality that puts her records across. A typical touch here is her choice of world-jazz-ambient trumpeter Jon Hassell to decorate the 14-minute spoken-word finale "Pulse": "you crawled into my bed/like some sort of giant insect/and I found myself spellbound/at the sight of you there/beautiful and grotesque/and all the rest of that bug stuff." "That bug stuff"--who else would dare it? A-