In 1936, writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans traveled to Alabama to document the lives of sharecropping families in the Great Depression for Fortune. The harrowing experience was eventually published in book form as Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which has proven influential for future generations of writers.
Among them are Chicago-based alternative-country pioneer Robbie Fulks, who wrote his new song “Alabama at Night” from the journalists’ perspective. “We were not there to talk, we were only there to see,” he laments, describing the heartbreaking scenes of poverty he sees with empathy.
“Alabama at Night” (listen below) is one of three Agee-inspired songs on Fulks’ new album Upland Stories, which arrives April 1st via Bloodshot Records. That literary element runs through the entirety of Upland Stories, which is named for the area in Virginia and North Carolina where Fulks grew up. Elsewhere, Fulks details the experience of a sick man forced to endure the self-righteous behavior of people from his small town in “Never Come Home.” Each track brims with the knowledge that existence is rarely ever simply black and white, but instead a complex array of hues.
Upland Stories was produced by Steve Albini and follows Fulks’ 2013 LP Gone Away Backward. It is available for pre-order now.
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Here is the track list for Robbie Fulks’ Upland Stories:
1. Alabama at Night
2. Baby Rocked Her Dolly
3. Never Come Home
4. Sarah Jane
5. Aunt Peg’s New Old Man
7. South Bend Soldiers On
8. America Is a Hard Religion
9. A Miracle
10. Sweet As Sweet Comes
11. Katy Kay
12. Fare Thee Well, Carolina Gals