Richmond Fontaine - YOU CAN’T GO BACK IF THERE’S NOTHING TO GO BACK TO (Decor Records)

Richmond Fontaine – YOU CAN’T GO BACK IF THERE’S NOTHING TO GO BACK TO (Decor Records)

This is it…  No going back now. Formed in 1994, Richmond Fontaine have given us 11 albums and this, the last of the lot, is a fitting way to bow out.  They’ve been a seminal alt-country band thriving on stories of drunken underdogs, blending literary lyrics with pictures of characters facing loneliness and despair.  It’s sad they are departing but amazing to see them go out on this kind of high.

The unique thing about the band is that they possess a critically acclaimed author as their frontman.  Willy Vlautin has written four beautifully crafted novels and his storytelling infused lyrics are reflected in each song they make.  It’s no easy feat writing for two different forms of art; even The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn – the best bar band lyricist in the world today – has had his struggles wanting to write a book.  Take ‘Tapped Out In Tulsa’ from this album as an example; it’s about a middle-aged man losing his job in a trade-off for a bender with an unstable 19-year-old girl – not your average rock ‘n’ roll story, and ‘I Got Off The Bus‘ talks about a fella forced to confront the personal wreckage of his own decisions…

“This record was written for all the guys we know who have hit the wall, are about to hit the wall, or are in the middle of slamming into it,’ says Vlautin.  ‘It’s a record about paying the price for the way one’s lived.  All of us in Richmond Fontaine are at the age where the bill starts coming due for the decisions we’ve made along the way.’

There are no interludes of spoken word storytelling on YOU CAN’T GO BACK IF THERE’S NOTHING TO GO BACK TO unlike last record The High Country or breakthrough album Post To Wire.  Recorded and produced in Portland, Oregon by John Askew at Flora Studios, there also aren’t any standout tracks quite as good as ‘Winners Casino’ or ‘Through’, but Ray’s back (from ‘Always On The Ride‘) with ‘Wake Up Ray‘ and tracks like ‘Don’t Skip Out On Me‘ and ‘Let’s Hit One More Place’ would easily make a best of LP.  Co-Founder of the group Dave McHardy features playing guitar on only a number of tracks as he left recently to start up a new life in Denmark.  Replacement Freddy Trujillo from Vlautin’s side-project The Delines joins on bass and will play the upcoming tour.

Richmond Fontaine’s back catalogue is a selection of albums to be treasured. It is not easy to release a cherished collection that resonates so well together and Dan Eccles’ guitar is distinctive and gorgeous.  It is with the greatest intentions they are calling it a day and God Is In The TV cannot wait to see them in action for the last time.  There will always be the Willy Vlautin live show and the rest of the band members will continue playing in some shape or form; so thank you RF for the past 22 years.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.