Robbie Fulks Celebrates Rough Edges on 'Gone Away Backward'

Robbie-Fulks

Robbie Fulks has made a career out of playing the kind of music that country fans claim to miss like crazy evan as they’re cranking up the latest Luke Bryan country-pop hit. It’s won Fulks critical acclaim and a devoted, if not massive, fanbase that ought to fall right in love with his latest, “Gone Away Backward” (Bloodshot).

The album comprises a dozen new songs, rooted in acoustic arrangements that showcase Fulks’ voice, which ranges easily from subdued and soulful on the wistful “That’s Where I’m From” and “Guess I Got It Wrong” to high lonesome on “Long I Ride,” a banjo- and fiddle-laced tune that would have fit right in on one of the old 50,000-watt A.M. radio stations that beamed country music into the rural crannies of the South and West in the 1940s and ’50s. Fulks wallows wonderfully in classic country on the gutbucket drinkin’ song “When You Get to the Bottom,” and kicks up the tempo — and vintage-style close vocal harmonies — on “Sometimes the Grass Is Really Greener.”

That’s one of the songs that shows flashes of the sardonic side that Fulks employed to such great effect on “Fuck This Town,” the anti-Nashville screed on his 1997 album “South Mouth.” “Well, the record company man confessed he liked me,” Fulks sings. “But he’d have to shave a few rough edges down/Cut my hair like Brooks & Dunn’s, trade the banjo for some drums/because no one’d buy that old high-lonesome sound.”

Well, not no one. But those rough edges are the point, and Fulks knows it as well as his fans do.

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