Ken Tucker

Ken Tucker reviews rock, country, hip-hop and pop music for Fresh Air. He is a cultural critic who has been the editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, and a film critic for New York Magazine. His work has won two National Magazine Awards and two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards. He has written book reviews for The New York Times Book Review and other publications.

Tucker is the author of Scarface Nation: The Ultimate Gangster Movie and Kissing Bill O'Reilly, Roasting Miss Piggy: 100 Things to Love and Hate About Television.

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1:36pm

Wed January 29, 2014
Music Reviews

Don't Pigeonhole Me, Bro: New Country Albums On The Borderline

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 4:20 pm

Jon Pardi.
Courtesy of the artist

2:45pm

Thu January 23, 2014
Music Reviews

On 'Hard Working Americans,' Songs For The Ordinary Joe

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 4:39 pm

Hard Working Americans.
James Martin Courtesy of the artist

12:55pm

Tue January 14, 2014
Music Reviews

Uneven But Vital, Bruce Springsteen Has 'High Hopes'

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 2:04 pm

Bruce Springsteen's 18th album is titled High Hopes.
Danny Clinch Courtesy of the artist

High Hopes is a different sort of release for Bruce Springsteen. It features original and cover songs that had been performed live over the years, some never recorded in a studio setting, as well as a few older songs reconceived with new arrangements and musicians.

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12:29pm

Fri January 10, 2014
Music Reviews

Rosanne Cash: Seeking A 'Thread' Through Southern History

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 2:30 pm

Rosanne Cash.
Clay Patrick McBride Courtesy of the artist

For the past two decades, Rosanne Cash has lived with her family in Manhattan, but in 2008, she was asked if she wanted to help with a project to restore the childhood home of her father, Johnny Cash, in the small town of Dyess, Ark. She agreed and went down there to do some fundraising — and in the process, she and her husband, producer-songwriter-guitarist John Leventhal, took some car trips throughout the South, soaking up history and music.

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3:09pm

Tue December 17, 2013
Best Music Of 2013

Ken Tucker's Top 10 Albums Of 2013

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:21 am

Jason Isbell's Southeastern was Fresh Air critic Ken Tucker's favorite album of 2013.
Courtesy of the artist

1:40pm

Mon December 16, 2013
Music Reviews

A Former Girl-Group Singer Goes 'All Or Nothing'

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 2:33 pm

With new songs and covers, La La Brooks' All or Nothing isn't just an attempted career comeback.
Jacob Blickenstaff Courtesy of the artist

A half-century on, La La Brooks still sings about boys and girls falling in love. At an age when other veterans of first-generation rock movements are thinking about retirement or oldies tours, Brooks has come up with a fresh, energetic collection that doesn't deny her past, but also refuses to succumb to mere nostalgia.

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12:08pm

Fri November 15, 2013
Music Reviews

Two Sides Of Holiday Cheer From Kelly Clarkson, Nick Lowe

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 2:57 pm

Kelly Clarkson's new holiday album is titled Wrapped in Red.
Courtesy of the artist

12:06pm

Thu October 31, 2013
Music Reviews

Brandy Clark Tells The 'Stories' That Are Tough To Hear

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 9:12 am

Brandy Clark's new album is titled 12 Stories.
Becky Fluke Courtesy of the artist

12:22pm

Tue October 22, 2013
Music Reviews

It's A Family Affair On Linda Thompson's 'Won't Be Long Now'

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 3:58 pm

Linda Thompson's new album is called Won't Be Long Now.
Annabel Vere Courtesy of the artist

Linda Thompson is probably best known for the albums she recorded with her husband Richard Thompson in the '70s and early '80s. They divorced, and Thompson has maintained a sporadic solo career. Her new album is a family affair, featuring some accompaniment by her ex-husband, and some songs written with her son, the singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson.

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12:03pm

Mon October 14, 2013
Music Reviews

'The Blow' Puts An Artsy, Electro-Pop Spin On Attraction

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 11:04 am

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Our rock critic Ken Tucker has a review of the new album, "The Blow" by the music and performance are duo called The Blow which was conceived by its singer, Khaela Maricich. Melissa Dyne plays a more behind the scenes role, arranging, mixing and co-producing much of this new collection. The music made by The Blow can be broadly labeled as electro pop, but Ken says it goes further than that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A KISS")

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11:14am

Thu October 10, 2013
Music Reviews

Two Bluegrass Truths From James King And Alan Jackson

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 1:13 pm

James King.
Julie Lilliard King Courtesy of the artist

On Three Chords and the Truth, bluegrass musician James King picks from the canon of country music to rearrange its songs as bluegrass. On The Bluegrass Album, country star Alan Jackson has recorded his first collection of bluegrass music — some classics, some originals.

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1:27pm

Wed October 2, 2013
Music Reviews

On 'Days Are Gone,' Three Sisters HAIM It Up

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 1:28 pm

HAIM.
Tom Beard Courtesy of the artist

1:40pm

Mon September 30, 2013
Music Reviews

Don't Feel Too Bad For Sad-Sack Bob Schneider

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 3:40 pm

Burden of Proof is Bob Schneider's third album.
Dan Winters Kirtland Records

12:34pm

Tue September 24, 2013
Music Reviews

Lucy Schwartz Is In Love With Her Own Voice, And That's OK

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 3:16 pm

Lucy Schwartz.
Tierney Gearon Courtesy of the artist

The first thing you notice about Lucy Schwartz's Timekeeper is the singer's voice — both her physical voice, which is at once ringing and adroit, and her writer's voice, which is precise yet elusive. When Schwartz sings "Ghost in My House," the production renders her tone in an echoing manner that signifies spookiness. It also suggests a metaphor — memory as a ghost, the haunting of someone who's no longer in her life. In general, Lucy Schwartz is in love with the sound of her own voice, and for once that phrase is not meant as a criticism; I think she has good reason to be.

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11:16am

Thu September 19, 2013
Music Reviews

Robbie Fulks: Exhilarating And Bitter On 'Gone Away Backward'

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 2:06 pm

Robbie Fulks' new album is titled Gone Away Backward.
Courtesy of the artist

Robbie Fulks has been recording since the mid-'90s, making music that's difficult to categorize. He's written country songs about how compromised most country music is, and while he's fond of folk and bluegrass, he pleases concert audiences with covers of hits by Michael Jackson and Cher. Fulks' new album, Gone Away Backward, is one of his most sustained and subtle efforts.

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