Robbie Fulks' major label debut moves even farther from country music than anticipated. Fans whose tastes extend to rock should warm up to the sound once the initial shock wears off. Warming up to the words may be tougher. There's no humor and less cleverness than previously. Some songs are inscrutable even with a lyric sheet.
For country music, you have to skip straight to the second half of the album. "Can't Win For Losing You" is a nice honky-tonk number with generic lyrics. "God Isn't Real" is an earnest Atheist anthem. Its cleverest touch is the subtle irony of presenting it as a Louvin Brothers ballad, right down to using Stalin's name instead of someone more contemporary. "Night Accident" is the album's lyrical strong point. A tamer "Cold Statesville Ground" musically, this features a dark, well- constructed story. The slow and bare "Stone River" nicely ends the album on an oddly tranquil note.
The rock songs are all over the map in style and in quality. Some feature feedback and other odd guitar noises. Maybe Geffen has finally found someone to replace Neil Young on their roster, as Fulks has condensed Young's diverse career into 13 songs.