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Robbie Fulks: Georgia Hard
Buy! - (Yep Roc)
Robbie Fulks has always been one of the most-talented songwriters working in the country underground. While his last album of originals (2001's Couples in Trouble) focused more on adventurous rock and pop, his latest finds him squarely back in country territory.

Robbie tackles a variety of country styles on Georgia Hard, from honky tonk shuffles and cheatin' songs to smooth countrypolitan and sophisticated western swing. Still, the dominant flavor is '70s country, with a number of Robbie's new songs evoking the likes of Mel Street, Don Williams and even Johnny Lee with lilting, easygoing rhythms, bittersweet melodies and well-crafted lyrics with an emphasis on storytelling and illuminating various moral ambiguities.

Plenty other styles are also explored on Georgia Hard, including the newgrassy roots-rock of the lead-off song "Where There's a Road," a comic hillbilly-boogie duet with his wife Donna called "I'm Gonna Take You Home (and Make You Like Me)," a swampy, sardonic root-rocker ("It's Always Raining Somewhere") and a haunting, atmospheric murder ballad ("Coldwater, Tennessee").

As Robbie showed a few years back with "Roots Rock Weirdos," he's happy to take on the musical prejudices of his own audience, and he does so again here with "Countrier Than Thou," a hilarious spoof of urban-faux-hillbilly country purists and the often-arbitrary standards they apply to a diverse and constantly evolving popular art form (and he also manages to work in a good dig against the president).

But while it wouldn't be a Robbie Fulks album without some of his sharp sense of humor, it's the serious stuff that predominates and hits hardest here. The title song, "You Don't Want What I Have" and "Doin' Right (for All the Wrong Reasons)" are some of the finest country songs Robbie's ever written, and many of the others here aren't far behind.

Georgia Hard is not only Robbie's best album yet, it's an often-brilliant tour-de-force of country music from a master craftsman whose songs can tickle the funny bone, inspire reflection, stir deep emotions and get right to the heart of the cold hard truth. 5/12/2005 - Don Slack
Other Robbie Fulks album reviews:

The Very Best of Robbie Fulks - 1/15/2002
13 Hillbilly Giants - 11/15/2001
Couples in Trouble - 8/15/2001
The Very Best Of Robbie Fu - 10/15/1999
Let's Kill Saturday Night - 9/15/1998
South Mouth - 10/15/1997
Country Love Songs - 7/15/1996