Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bat McGrath

  • From the Blue Eagle [Amherst, 1976] B+
  • The Spy [Amherst, 1978] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

From the Blue Eagle [Amherst, 1976]
Unlike so many singer-songwriters, McGrath sounds like he comes from somewhere--upstate New York, as it happens. Instead of attaching generalized reflections to the most surefire melodies available, he writes lyrics that evoke specific locales and situations--like Jimmy Buffett when he's good, or Tom T. Hall with a more literary flair. Granted, anyone who believes a wino is "free" should check in his thesaurus under "nothin' left to lose," but the abundant compassion, humor, and detail of these brief ballads make you want to hear them again. A small find. B+

The Spy [Amherst, 1978]
Although he's a nice singer, McGrath is bound in by the mildly jazzy conventions of contemporary folk music. But his songs still say more about how it is for all those formerly young guys with beards who chose to live in the country back around 1970 than all the paeans to homemade bread coming out of Vermont, Colorado, and Marin. B