Robbie Fulks has long been known as a fantastic songwriter, culminating in Grammy nominations in 2016 for Best Folk Album for Upland Stories, and for Best American Roots Song for “Alabama at Night,” from that album. While Fulks’s albums have always featured solid musicianship, it’s always been the lyrics that stood out, the wit, the humor, the wryness. On Wild! Wild! Wild! (Bloodshot Reords), his collaboration with Linda Gail Lewis, sister of Jerry Lee, the strong writing is still present, but the musicality has really stepped up, making for Fulks’s most sonically pleasing album.
Fulks’s warm vocals are as strong as they’ve better been, as is his work on acoustic and archtop guitar. Linda Gail may not be Jerry Lee Lewis, but Jerry Lee brought his sister ’round the rock ’n roll learning tree. Her wailing on the lyrics and frenetic piano playing must make Jerry Lee proud. The superb cast of guest musicians – Redd Volkaert and Scott Ligon on electric guitar; Danny B. Harvey on acoustic and electric guitar; Tommy Detamore on pedal steel; Kevin Smith on bass; Cass McDonough on bass guitar and backing vocals; Alex Hall on piano, drums, and backing vocals; and Kelly Hogan, Yvonne Gage, and Joan Collaso on backing vocals – elevate this album to a higher level.
Fulks structures the album to maximize the impact of its expanded sound. The album kicks off with Lewis’s fiery piano and vocals on the rockabilly number “Round Too Long.” Fulks come in on the next song, “I Just Lived a Country Song.” Both of their distinctive styles introduced, Fulks blends them in a duet on the third track, “That Why They Call It Temptation.” The result is fantastic: it captures a moment in time when rock, country, and rockabilly were not so strictly separated, when the Million Dollar Quartet freely mixed these styles in Memphis.
Robbie Fulks’s Wild! Wild! Wild! is fun, fun, fun. This album is lyrically complex enough to reward multiple listens, and it’s so much fun to listen to, you’ll want to hit play again. Robbie Fulks has produced another excellent record to add to his distinguished catalog. Get your copy right here: http://www.robbiefulks.com/