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Robbie Fulks

Gone Away Backward (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Scott Schinder, Fri., March 14, 2014

SXSW 2014 Records

Robbie Fulks

Gone Away Backward (Bloodshot)

Although Fulks first gained prominence as part of the Nineties alt-country boom, his iconoclastic attitude and far-ranging songwriting talent allowed him to transcend the limitations of that scene. Gone Away Backward, which marks his return to Bloodshot, largely dispenses with the satirical edge that's long been a key component of Fulks' creative arsenal, instead offering a character-driven, ballad-centric set that's one of his most understated efforts, yet also one of his most urgent. With fellow Chicagoan Steve Albini providing clear production that enhances the immediacy of the acoustic arrangements, Fulks' new tunes sound simultaneously ancient and current. "I'll Trade You Money for Wine," "Where I Fell," and "When You Get to the Bottom" mix starkly beautiful rural songcraft with lyrics unmistakably set in the present, yet tapped into timeless truths. A pair of trad-style instrumentals, "Snake Chapman's Tune" and "Pacific Slope," underlines Fulks' sublime stylistic mastery. (9pm, Continental Club)

****

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