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Gone Away Backward

LP includes digital download version of the album (TEMPORARILY SOLD OUT)

Named Rolling Stone's #10 Best Country Album of 2013

As hopeful as it is dark, modern as it is historical. City and country. MP3 and dusty 45. It’s autobiographical and all-embracing storytelling.
The album is rooted deeply in the interplay between Fulks and a brilliant cast of Appalachian-style slingers

Full Description

Recorded and mixed by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago, Gone Away Backward finds Fulks re-evaluating his roots and lamenting the decline of the small-town and rural America in which he was raised. After 20 years on the road, in 2008 Fulks began performing in unplugged, small-group settings. Regular sessions at the Barbes in Brooklyn and an ongoing residency at Chicago’s favorite tavern, The Hideout, gave him wider freedom to experiment and improvise, and offered intimacy and challenge with a wide variety of musicians. He learned a few hundred new songs and, in the process, developed fresh angles on his own narrative voice. Excited and freshly focused, he began writing music for a new project.

At the center of Gone Away Backward is Fulks’s gold-dusted vocals and prodigious guitar picking, at times spirited and brisk (“Pacific Slope”), elsewhere spare and sentimental (as on the heartbreakingly gorgeous ballad “That’s Where I’m From”). The album is rooted deeply in the interplay between Fulks and a brilliant cast of Appalachian-style slingers: Robbie Gjersoe, Jenny Scheinman, Mike Bub, and Ron Spears, collectively playing banjo, mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, and adding airtight and warm vocal harmonies (just bathe your ears in “Sometimes the Grass is Really Greener”).
There is a dynamic humility allowing each song’s anecdotal tale to unfold and construct, built upon the barren honesty of acoustic instrumentation and voice. These are songs drawn out of the rolling hills, harvested from fields with “dirt hard as gravel”, and remembered on the shores of dying rivers. 

"Long I Ride” is narrated by a drifting troubadour whose wry discontent enlarges, as he moves verse by verse from state to state, from the heat (“I went up on Jackson Hill, at a diner I sat down/and I waved at every stranger just to move the air around”) to the rich (“These New York folks will treat you kind when your wallet’s in your hand/ but a six-string on your shoulder could be the Devil’s brand…I’d trade every brick on Wall Street for one 'Black Mountain Rag'”) to God ("They say that there's a wondrous land for any good man that dies/And if it's got drink and women, well, then I'll be surprised"). The first-person of "That's Where I'm From," by contrast, is a father at the end of a farm-to-middle-class struggle taking melancholy note of his children: "I've watched them grow, now I see/One thing separates them from me/And that's where I'm from." And by further contrast, the father who sings to his newborn child in "The Many Disguises of God" presents his paternal abandonment as an incident in a dark cosmological pattern, witnessed from without, by revelation.
Gone Away Backward is as hopeful as it is dark, modern as it is historical, foreign just like it’s familiar. It’s autobiographical and all-embracing storytelling. Compassionate while cold-shouldered. City and country. MP3 and dusty 45.

Short Description
  • Deftly singing wise and witty lyrics that roam across the American landscape, Fulks made indelible 21st-century Chicago music built on memories of old-time Appalachia.

    — Chicago Reader's Best Chicago Albums of the 2010s
  • There may be flashier songwriters than Robbie Fulks, but there are none better. His new album is a sneaky triumph. The musicianship on the album kicks ass, but the real star is the brilliant pile of songs Robbie has amassed for his return to the great Bloodshot Records.

    — Rhett Miller (Old 97s)
  • The album sounds incredible, full of air and tangible spaces between the instruments. This is the country music of old: unapologetically simple in construction but never shallow, full of common people and their problems.

    — Ink 19
  • On Gone Away Backward Fulks has taken that iconoclastic history and processed it through the filter of gorgeous Americana. The result: an album where he sounds more like himself than ever before. For a guy with nothing left to prove, Fulks sure seems determined to show off.

    — PopMatters
  • …a John Prinean grasp of small details and characters that speak to greater, sadder truths.

    — Paste
  • It’s so hard to describe Robbie Fulks’ sound, as it’s so pure and authentic, so it’s probably best to just listen and allow yourself to be consumed.

    — The Horn
  • The craftsmanship is top notch and each track pulls you into every word. … Each track has a purpose and gives this record its depth.

    — The Firenote
  • May also be the best album Fulks has ever produced, if for no other reason than it’s both pure and unfettered.

    — Blurt
  • The level of artistry is so complete that is suggests a world in which Fulks isn't a household name is somehow upside down.

    — Wall St Journal (OUR fave music magazine!)
  • One of the smartest albums you will hear this year, and Robbie Fulks, who has been referred to as a country version of Elvis Costello, once again proves that he is an artist at the very top of his game.

    — Cool Album of the Day
  • Four Stars

    — Mojo UK
  • Gone Away Backward may be Fulks' most cohesive, best-realized album yet.

    — AV Club
  • A work of great, accomplished craft.

    — NPR Fresh Air

Track List

  • 1. I'll Trade You Money For Wine
  • 2. Where I Fell
  • 3. Long I Ride
  • 4.That's Where I'm From
  • 5. When You Get To The Bottom
  • 6. Snake Chapman's Tune
  • 7. Imogene
  • 8. Pacific Slope
  • 9. Sometimes The Grass Is Really Greener
  • 10. Guess I Got It Wrong
  • 11. The Many Disguises Of God
  • 12. Rose Of The Summer


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