Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Iris DeMent: Infamous Angel [Philo, 1992]
Because it leads with the miraculous "Let the Mystery Be"--an agnostic's declaration of faith so homespun it makes the word agnostic seem absurdly hoity-toity and severe, so unfaltering it modestly conceals the tremendous intellectual effort her decision not to know self-evidently required--this Kansas City 31-year-old's debut has authenticity hounds in a lather. But she never gets so near perfection again--the catchy "Our Town" seems contrived by comparison, the signature "Infamous Angel" obscure. Also, she worries more about her sins than an agnostic should. It's hard to believe she's ever done anything that bad. B+