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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
Gone Away Backward
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:$10.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on October 8, 2013
For anyone new to Robbie, he's hard to categorize. Yes he's "country" but he has one excellent rock album and another collection of brooding songs that elude normal genres, to go along with his several superb country or alt-country albums. He's peppered his work with novelty songs, which I find unfortunate. They're better than anyone else's novelty songs, and they seemed popular at his live shows, but they distract from the great art he's creating on his serious work.

In 2005, I fell in love (and remain there) with "Georgia Hard," a throwback country album of wistful tunes that in large part channel a 1970s country sound. The difference is that his 70s music is better than the original stuff, because the lyrics are more compelling, the syrupy strings are gone or tamed, all the corny stuff is wrung out, leaving just superb songs of love and loss or rousing honky tonkers. And it may be this rare combination -- an intensely literate country boy -- that accounts for his limited following. A lot of country fans like to keep it simple, emotionally and intellectually. Robbie brings marvelous layers of depth and complexity to the lyrics while maintaining clarity with the music.

He's released a few things between 2005's Georgia Hard and 2013's Gone Away Backward, but none were "regular" studio efforts. "VC50 Doberman" is 50 songs for 35 bucks, in digital format only. "Revenge" is a two-disc live set that gave me the impression (false, I later learned) that his live performances are sloppy. And "Happy" is a set of Michael Jackson covers!

Anyhow, I finally got to see him live near my Pennsylvania home in September, 2013. I was disappointed at the beginning to see it was to be an acoustic, drumless four-man band. By the end, I felt I had a new favorite way to hear him perform. He covered plenty of old favorites and debuted a lot of the 12 songs from his new disc; this was my first time hearing them.

First, at age 50, Robbie's reedy tenor is in fine form; he sounds better than ever. It's not a "great" voice, but it's a genuine voice and ideal for his style of music. He played guitar, and his longtime collaborator Robbie Gjersjoe was brilliant on dobro. Rounding out the live band was Chris Scruggs on standup bass and Shad Cobb on violin/mandolin.

I liked these new songs instantly, and this acoustic foursome produced a rich and complex sound -- didn't miss the drums at all.

I'm still new to this new LP. Right now, my clear favorite is "When You Get to the Bottom" -- with lovely soaring harmonies (brings the Louvin Brothers to mind) as counterpunch to the sad tale within the lyrics. "That's Where I'm From" probably could have been the LP title, and again Robbie weaves a story as touching and textured as you can find, over delicate and lovely picking. "Imogene" is a slow, sparse song that would sound at home on a David Bromberg LP. There's a fiddle reel, a few more bluegrass-fed country songs, and one or two that defy categorization but might have been called jazz or blues at some point.

Interestingly, a few of these songs appear on "VC50 Doberman" in excellent but more raw versions. Here, they are more fully formed - polished yet not slick.

All told: brilliant songwriting, brilliant playing, perfectly matched vocals. It's not yet supplanted Georgia Hard as my favorite from Robbie, but it's a threat.
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on February 3, 2015
LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Why this man is not a major star I cannot imagine. Perhaps it's
because he is too true to himself; and because not a single one of his songs, to my recollection, includes the
seemingly de rigeur modern chorus of "Oh oh oh."

I once heard an actress recite the lyrics of a Beyonce song. This was her gig and she was getting some
notice for it, and I felt so sad for her...not just because she considered these lyrics some sort of high art,
but also because they were not HER creation in the first place.

What you get from Robbie Fulks is a triple-header: songwriter, singer, and instrumentalist. His work could not
BE more his work. I would LOVE to hear an actor with Robbie Fulks' lyrics, except that even though every turn of phrase is
original and incisive poetry in and of itself, one cannot imagine it without the music and without the remarkable
voice and delivery. I have had the privilege of hearing Robbie Fulks in person. This album is even more
astonishing in its range and in the chords it touches in each one of us.
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on May 29, 2014
I can't believe I'm late to the party with Robbie Fulks. I have loved John Prine since I first heard him in the early '70's and thought I would never find anyone to compare with him. This guy is brilliant! Incredibly literate, funny, poignant and everything else that Prine is. Great guitar player as well. Don't miss any of his releases, a true one of a kind!
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on March 1, 2016
Just fantastic.
The harmonies on "Rose of the Summer" are something you don't hear any more.
"The Many Disguises of God" is one of those songs you just can't stop listening to. It take bluegrass to the next level.
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on January 28, 2016
A strong album with haunting and skillful instrumentation. Fulks is a gifted songwriter; like Bob Dylan writing with John Prine. Have introduced Robbie Fulks' music to many friends.
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on January 2, 2017
Good solid country, alternative only in its return to basics with a contemporary viewpoint.
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on August 28, 2013
Yet another great Robbie Fulks album full of great songwriting, sad storytelling, bitter sarcasm and amazing musicianship. If bluegrass, mixed with classic 60's/70's country is your thing and you're curious to hear what Steve Albini (who mixed the album) can make a banjo sound like (for the record, surprisingly just like a banjo!), then buy this today.
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on August 21, 2016
Excellent! Big Robbie Fulks fan, and I was really pleased with the whole CD.
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on August 16, 2016
Brilliant. Please make more.
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on August 9, 2016
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