Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Carolyn Mark: The Queen of Vancouver Island [Mint, 2012]
Mark is known in the Northwest Kingdom as the Boozy Chanteuse and in my house as an also-ran singer-songwriter who made her best album in 2000 as Neko Case's fellow Corn Sister. At about 40 she's on her seventh solo outing since 2000. Not an exciting prospect, and while it's solidly tuneful and cleverly arranged, not exactly an exciting record either--which it turns out is thematic for this matter-of-fact bunch of terrific songs. Not bitter, certainly not despairing, defiant and funny in a muted way, it's an album about being in love with Nobody, as in "Nobody('s Perfect)," or "Nobody knows the troubles I've seen/I trust Nobody and Nobody trusts me"--which has a companion piece called "Not Talk," as in "Let's not talk about it later." I wouldn't trust her myself. But I note that the song about being a whore is really about marginalization in the music business. Well, one of the songs about being a whore. A-