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Robbie Fulks | Georgia Hard (Yep Roc)
Good ol' Robbie Fulks. He always leaves a big smile on your face, a skip in your step and a foot surely tapping off the beat somewhere. It doesn't matter if he's exploring old-fashioned rock and roll, folk roots or traditional country, he's capable at taking a roughshod sound and making it fresh‚??or at the very least entertaining. And while 'Georgia Hard' isn't Fulks' best effort, it oozes charisma, which is something that's been missing in his repertoire as of late.
'Georgia Hard' may not be heavy with songs of sarcasm and wit, but what it lacks in cynicism, it makes up in classic country idealism and storytelling. The album is what country was when Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson were starting out. This makes the album difficult to peg‚??is it old country, the future of country or an alternative to anything and everything on most radio stations and television? The title track and Leave it to a Loser are prime examples of country's lean years when singer/songwriters such as Conway Twitty and George Straitt were struggling to convey the real heart of country music. Nobody in this day and age of New Nashville could reciprocate the emotion and sentiment without someone holding their hand through the mechanized lap steel bridge. Nor could they deal with the unique and unorthodox humour of yesterday's sounds. Fulks has no problem delving into the worlds of picking up and losing women (I'm Gonna Take You Home, Doin' Right For All the Wrong Reasons) with irreverence and perspective.
There are no classics on a par with She Took a Lot of Pills (And Died) to be found here, but the rich tapestry of country's classic years replayed and updated by Fulks is more than enough to make up for the loss of total straight shooting. The humour is still to be found in small doses, but this is an attempt at capturing the feelings of regret and love with the walls down and 10-gallon hat removed.

Justin Spicer
October 2005