Robbie Fulks can apparently not make a bad record. Yes, some are better than others, but since his debut two decades ago, he consistently put out thoughtful, challenging modern takes on folk and country. His latest, Upland Stories, is no different.
Across a dozen tracks, Fulks proves song after song how well he can churn out a story with disparate characters living complicated lives, all in the span of about three minutes. His voice can be a bit twangy for some, but it’s stripped of all posturing and shown off flawless thanks to the subtle backing; there is the occasional pedal steel and piano, but mainly just drums and an acoustic guitar.
Fulks has always drawn from a lot of literature in his songs and this record is no different. On “Alabama At Night,” “America is a Hard Religion” and “A Miracle,” Fulks was inspired by the writings of James Agee and a trip he took to Alabama in the 1930s.
Not a deep departure from his earlier records, but a deeply satisfying new collection of folk/country songs from the one of the genre greats. (John B. Moore)