Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Judy Mowatt

  • Black Woman [Shanachie, 1983] B-
  • Working Wonders [Shanachie, 1985] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Black Woman [Shanachie, 1983]
Mowatt seems like an exceptionally decent person. Her avowals of sisterhood are a welcome corrective to Rasta sexism. But as a frontwoman she's a backup singer. The straightforward decorum of her timbre suits her fine, but her lack of inborn dramatic grace and soul technique make her modest tunes more tedious than they have to be. And I don't hear the boys in the band putting their backs into it. B-

Working Wonders [Shanachie, 1985]
The positivity of reggae's most autonomous woman isn't rendered any more credible by her brightly idealistic delivery--sounds like she's leading the community sing at Camp Nyabinghi. Her genteel Rastafarianism partakes of the usual fundamentalist delusions--she ignores Babylonian propaganda about Ethiopia, and she's sufficiently protective of her wonder worker's masculinity to insist that unlike those other women she's "not up to any tricks"--without the saving grace of fundamentalist conviction. If you're going to be unreasonable, you might as well get all possessed and transported about it. C+