City of Refuge - Abigail Washburn
Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Feb 1, 2011
    100
    It probably wasn't her intention, but Washburn ended up making a modern classic, a folk album for people who claim they don't like a such thing.
  2. Mar 3, 2011
    90
    Throughout the record, Washburn stays in her territory and lets her collaborators respond from theirs. This is not a bid for relevance or wider appeal, nor is it a betrayal of her traditional roots; it's a conversation. And it's a conversation that gets interesting.
  3. Feb 1, 2011
    90
    An original, accessible and highly recommended purchase.
  4. Mar 17, 2011
    89
    Filled with a brand of progressive folk music unlike anything you've ever heard, it crackles, sways, and whines, breaking through barriers we didn't know existed while creating a listening experience that's spellbinding.
  5. Feb 1, 2011
    87
    It's too early to start drafting up those Best of 2011 lists, but City of Refuge deserves to be shortlisted as one of the stronger folk albums in recent memory.
  6. 83
    Produced by Decemberists collaborator Tucker Martine, City of Refuge frames Washburn's smoky-sexy vocals with lush string-band arrangements that make the occasional touch of Chinese zither seem natural.
  7. Apr 4, 2011
    80
    Standouts include Burn Through, a Springsteenesque tale of blue-collar grit, and the haunting Corner Girl, where a lonely kid opens up her world like a plant unfurling. [Feb 2011, p.109]
  8. Feb 1, 2011
    80
    She's created a visionary American music that extends its traditions as it embraces others, free of borderlines. City of Refuge shines from West to East, from South to North--and beyond.
  9. 80
    In a word, Abigail Washburn's City of Refuge shines. It is a folk-pastiche that draws on all of Washburn's past successes and crafts them together into a lovely and sometimes mysterious work of art.
  10. 75
    Though fans of her exotica may miss her outlining connections between Earl Scruggs and Chinese pipa standards, City of Refuge is the best kind of crossover--one that anyone can find comfort in.
  11. It's a little too polished for the Oh Brother... crowd, but fans of Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss should take note.
  12. Feb 18, 2011
    70
    It won't be remembered for long, but in 40 minutes the album offers an amorous walk through a woman's keen strength in a style of music that will never sound dated.
  13. Feb 1, 2011
    70
    City Of Refuge is an album which manages to be raw yet transcendental and simple yet layered. Inquisitive ears should find plenty of interest here.
  14. Apr 20, 2011
    60
    Although something of a melting pot, this is an original and accessible album, blending world influences with old time American music.
  15. Feb 18, 2011
    60
    City of Refuge finds her back in Appalachian mode though, the songs shaded with fiddle, banjo and dulcimer and borne aloft by Washburn's airy voice. [Mar 2011, p.92]
  16. 60
    The collaborators' influences are visible, but not dominant, as Washburn's banjo remains central, striking a nice balance. Some fine tuning and vocal variation could make for a stellar follow-up to these new genre endeavors, but a return to her classics, for this immensely talented artist, would be equally as appreciated.

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