Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Will Oldham

  • Joya [Drag City, 1997] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Joya [Drag City, 1997]
"Why are you sad?" inquired the alt-rock mag. "I dunno," replied the former child actor d/b/a Palace and such. "I guess I was born." Admired for his reticence, sexual ambivalence, and general refusal of formal commitment, I mean closure, Oldham lacks neither talent nor originality, and up against some truly lousy competition this is his most melodic record. But to declare him a new avatar of Appalachian purity is absurd, not just because he's a rich city kid who can't sing, but because his purity is a candid affectation--a standard variation on late alt's agoraphobic cultivation of ineptitude as a token of spiritual superiority. Why is he sad? Because sad is easier than happy--almost comforting, in a chickenshit way. C+