Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Kasey Chambers: The Captain [Asylum, 2000]
If the voice doesn't get you, what can I say--you're not me, and you're also not a whole bunch of other people. Its burred drawl is deep country like Iris DeMent; its little-girl timbre evokes Dolly Parton and whispers Lolita. It's utterly arresting, and as soon as it warbles, "I never lived through the Great Depression/Sometimes I feel as though I did," you want to kiss her. Of course, when it gets to "I'm not much like my generation/Their music only hurts my ears," you may wish you'd pulled her nose instead. And when you learn that her "southern kind of life" took place in southern Australia--the cold part, noted for its drawl--you begin to suspect she's Gillian Welch without the death trip. You notice that her arrangements are slick country-rock, that her worldview is old hat, that you don't even know what the catchy title number means. So better not give your heart to this AC-ready 24-year-old-not yet. But by all means enjoy her voice and hum her tunes, which are delicious as music and dazzling as aesthetic constructions. And invest your hopes in the two kiss-offs--one to a boyfriend, the other to the world. B+