Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Jonatha Brooke: The Works [Bad Dog, 2008]
Solo and with the Story, Brooke has been a showoff and a bit of a priss. But setting unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics to music like the Klezmatics and Billy Bragg & Wilco before her, she blooms. The strophic simplicity of Guthrie's songforms demands direct melodies, and the two self-penned ones she couldn't do without are touched by his cultivated unsophistication. This isn't the Woody whose guitar killed fascists. This is the love-seeker and poetic soul doing battle against dolor, dread and impending madness. Topping them off is one dated 1954, with the chorea already clutching him tight: "Show me how, how to fight my battle in life/Show me how to fight, and I'll run away with you." A-