When Robbie Fulks’ name comes up in music circles, it’s usually by folks who are discussing Alt-Country or Americana. He made his made his solo recording debut for Bloodshot Records in 1996 and has since added 11 more to his discography.
While there are a stack of really good songs on those earlier releases, it’s the sarcastic numbers that have gained Robbie the most attention. But those kinds of songs can be a double edged sword, with some critics labeling Fulks as the ‘Roger Miller of Americana’.
For his latest release, ‘Gone Away Backward’, Fulks has come full circle and is back on the Bloodshot Records roster. The album is a gem, featuring 12 of his strongest compositions to date. Robbie must have heard the critics, because the new album does not include a single funny/silly type song. Instead it shows a musician who has matured in his writing and playing ability.
The CD opens with “I’ll trade you Money for Wine”, which sets the tone for 11 other tunes that follow. It’s mostly an acoustic affair, with plenty of Bluegrass and Country overtones. While listening to the CD, I caught myself looking at the song credits to see if Norman Blake was playing guitar on some of the tunes. No Blake listed, but there is some might fine picking here.
The album was engineered and produced by Steve Albini, who has made a name for himself working with rock acts. While so many of today’s Americana and Bluegrass releases are just too slick for my ears, Albini’s production on this one could not be better. I love the sound of this record, especially the haunting fiddle playing featured on some of the tracks. The album could have just as easily been released on Rounder Records (and in case you’re not sure, that’s a huge compliment).
Thirty years from now when some hipster is picking songs for a retrospective box set covering the career of Mr. Fulks, don’t be surprised to see all of the tracks from this album included.
If you are already a fan of Robbie Fulks, you’ll probably fall in love with this one. If you are new to this wonderful artist, ‘Gone Away Backward’ is a great spot to begin your discovery of his music.
For more information or to purchase, visit Bloodshot Records. ~ Mark Hayes
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