BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Considering the rowdy reputation Robbie Fulks has garnered over the years, it’s somewhat surprising to find that the aptly titled Gone Away Backward has him abandoning any hint of insurgent sentiment and focusing instead on more traditional trappings. There’s not a single song here that wouldn’t fit the bill at a bluegrass barn dance or a simple backwoods hoedown. Indeed, Gone Away Backward may also be the best album Fulks has ever produced, if for no other reason than it’s both pure and unfettered.
If Fulks was so determined to embrace the heartland, clearly he couldn’t have found a better means of doing so. With most songs ablaze with fiddles, banjo and mandolin, he offers no pretense. The homesick lament “Sometimes the Grass is Really Greener” finds him assuming the guise of a humble hillbilly, while “That’s Where I’m From” drives the point home for anyone who hasn’t yet gotten the hint. “If you can’t tell I’m country, just you look closer/It’s deep in my blood.”
Just how deep is open to conjecture, but with a mellow fiddle-fueled ramble like “Snake Chapman’s Tune” or some boozy honky tonk like “When You Get to the Bottom,” it doesn’t take much more to convince. These slow-rolling, Southern-bred sentiments serve him well, and indeed Gone Away Backward appears to be a fine step forward.
DOWNLOAD: “When You Get to the Bottom,” “Sometimes the Grass is Really Greener,” “That’s Where I’m From”