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Robbie Fulks

13 Hillbilly Giants – 2001 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Robbie Fulks

Robbie Fulks' "13 Hillbilly Giants" (available at Fulks' website and shows since last winter) is the one for fans of his "Country Love Songs," although in this case it's all remakes of old country songs. Fulks avoids the usual fish - there's no Hank, Buck, or Lefty - and dives deep into the hillbilly sea to pull out exotic species like Hylo Brown and Dave Rich. It's an album of obscure or forgotten songs by underappreciated or virtually unknown artists.

What makes it work as a Robbie Fulks album, rather than as a museum piece, is that all these songs sound like Fulks would have written them himself had someone not beaten him to it. From the silliness of Jimmie Logsdon's "I Want To Be Mama'd" or The Carlisles' "Knot Hole" to the depressing Porter Wagoner/Dolly Parton b-side "Jeannie's Afraid Of The Dark," this album taps the same sensibilities as Fulks' own country material. There's even a tribute to his missus, "Donna On My Mind," which Wynn Stewart recorded before she was born. For an album of other people's songs, "13 Hillbilly Giants" does a remarkable job of capturing this part of Fulks' personality.