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http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/esq-negativity-xlg-1379964233.jpg Negativity

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Negativity

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5 3.5 0
September 24, 2013

John McCauley is a workaholic – if you call being a boozy, (formerly) crack-smokin' alt-rock star work. Slotted between side projects, his main crew's latest is a reckoning after 2011's unhinged Divine Providence. Tight songs flash their roots: "Thyme" echoes Screamin' Jay Hawkins' sexy menace; "In Our Time" (with Vanessa Carlton) recalls the battle-hardened duets of Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty. McCauley unspools frank memoir here. "Mr. Sticks" is about his imprisoned dad; the folksy "Big House" gives a junkie friend a dress-down worthy of Skynyrd's "That Smell." If he gets personal, he's not self-indulgent. He's just a bruised craftsman, impressively plying his trade.

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