Susin Shapiro

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 152

[Joan Armatrading conveys] a tensile sedateness and haltingly eloquent mournful phrasing in Back To The Night…. She claims the influence of Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell, but I find the derivation obscure and irrelevant. ("No Love for Free" is an unsettling song about a prostitute who can't handle love and won't give up her trade for it; hardly Joni's cup of tea.) Armatrading moves around the sexual combat zone like a trooper who has found that all the safe corners are no longer providing comfort and wants out of all the nice cliches and familiar niches…. Anger handled calmly, stripped of its neurotic baggage, is Armatrading's forte…. [She lets] it all out, not as an assault, but as an expression of her depth. (pp. 68-9)

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Susin Shapiro, "What Once Were Vices Aren't Even Habits Anymore," in Crawdaddy (copyright © 1975 by Crawdaddy Publishing Co., Inc.; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), January, 1976, pp. 68-9.

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