Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Joan Armatrading: The Key [A&M, 1983]
Folkies manqué to the contrary, it's not hard rock she's unsuited for, a point she drives home on the side-openers, which are as nasty as this album gets both musically and emotionally, and also as rousing. What she's unsuited for is pop--the way Steve Lillywhite's hooks lockstep with her alto singsong on "The Key," "Drop the Pilot," and "The Game of Love" makes the friendly sentiments expressed therein seem mechanical. And since she's always been a tough broad, maybe they are. B