California’s Next Joan Didion Can Sing

Phoebe Bridgers Offers an Homage to, and an Improvement on, the Classic Golden State Interpreter

California’s next Joan Didion might be an improvement on the original.

For one thing, she can sing.

Phoebe Bridgers, a brilliant and versatile 26-year-old musician and songwriter, isn’t just contending for four Grammy awards this March. She is challenging the status of Joan Didion, now 86, as the most nationally respected and quotable of California interpreters.

Such a challenge is long overdue. It’s been 40 years since New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani declared that “California belongs to Joan Didion,” and the British novelist Martin Amis (backhandedly) praised her “almost embarrassingly sharp ear …