Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Jazmine Sullivan: Love Me Back [J, 2010]
Although overdoing the soulful melodrama doesn't beat overdoing the suave cool as decisively as the retro-nuevo believe, the songwriting here is a big extra difference maker, with enough pop moves to lighten the overall mood. Except on a multi-sampled opener shared by a record-seeking 19 creative partners, Sullivan is front and center, role-playing with unflinching intelligence: fluttery in "Stuttering," steadfast in "Love You Long Time," unable to break it off in "U Get on My Nerves," giddy to be free in "Luv Back," sure-likes-to-ball in "Don't Make Me Wait." Sure these could all be personal history, with the crack whore/domestic abuser one added for consciousness points. But it's simpler just to wish every pro was such an astute student of the female condition. A-