Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Eric Church: Chief [EMI, 2011]
I know the idea is that the studly barfly who kicks the album off grows up as it progresses, but that doesn't help me feel the big dog who wants to beat up my buddy in "Keep On," or convince me that the morning-after sex of the last verse isn't a literary lie. Still, grow up he does. Church has always known how to write, and he's blowing here--check how the reworked title of "Homeboy" obliterates one's faint reservations about its moralism, or for that matter how the reworked title of "Keep On" mans up that sex scene. Jack Daniels (apostrophe omitted) and Springsteen (teen-sex soundtrack) are also title-cited, as is Jesus, twice--as a woman he doesn't deserve and a Johnny Cash imitator country music could use. Be nice if this bright, basically decent guy was him. A-