Illinois resident country veteran Robbie Fulks’ latest full-length effort, Gone Away Backward, has a flavor all its own, as the artist draws upon his 20 years of experience for fuel. “I’ll Trade You Money For Wine” sets the bar within the present day country genre for how it should sound. With this track, he has gone back to the basics of quality songwriting, an element that appears to be forgotten in the country music industry today. A mix of strings ride alongside his understated singing, rising and falling with the melody. It is the memorable melody that makes this track completely worth it. Paired with Fulks’ creative lyricism and song arranging, the music nor the lyrics become redundant.
The third number, “Long I Ride,” lightens the mood, as it is fast paced in nature and should be taken with a grain of salt. The cut incorporates the quick, cheerful strings of the banjo, mandolin, and fiddle, complementing the vocalist as he projects a little louder. There are no frills on this album, making it not only tolerable, but pleasant, even for a listener new to country. In the middle of the disc, “Snake Chapman’s Tune,” an entirely instrumental piece, leads with violins and acts as a connective tissue, binding the two halves of the record together. It is a refreshing sentiment that lays the foreground for the songs yet to come. Following the instrumental cut is a slow-rolling love song titled “Imogene.” This track is bare bones, with only Fulks’ guitar strumming alongside his subdued vocal parts.
Gone Away Backwards is decent easy listening, as it has a favorable tendency to fade in and out of the background of whatever the listener is actually doing.