Recorded and produced in Portland, Oregon by John Askew at Flora Studios, YOU CAN’T GO BACK features the stalwart lineup of Sean Oldham on drums, Dan Eccles on guitar, and Paul Brainard on pedal steel. Freddy Trujillo joins on bass for his first recording with RF, and longtime friend Jenny Conlee (The Decemberists) plays keyboards with former bassist Dave Harding contributing some guitar after a move to Europe. While the atmosphere is familiar the songwriting is Vlautin’s strongest to date matching his lyrics in depth.
“The idea for the record started with the song Whitey and Me. It’s the story of two cowboy brothers who get their horses sold out from under them by a wayward uncle. They run into the uncle years later, only to find a wrecked man. Even though the brothers hold a lot of animosity towards the uncle they realize there’s no point in kicking someone who’s spent his whole life kicking himself. I’d just written the tune and not much later I was driving around central Nevada, and in the middle of nowhere I came across an old, blind Mustang. As I watched and worried about the horse, I studied his scars and thought about all the hard times he must have had. And now he was left alone to die. After that trip the songs just sorta spilled out. The characters in Wake up Ray, I Got off the Bus, Don’t Skip Out on Me, and Tapped Out in Tulsa are all like that horse: beat up, with nothing but hard miles behind them.”
YOU CAN’T GO BACK IF THERE’S NOTHING TO GO BACK TO is the band at its best. Richmond Fontaine again has produced a wealth of beautifully executed story songs, the ilk of which is rarely matched in today’s musical landscape.
Richmond Fontaine rose to fame in 2004 off the back of their 5th album, Post To Wire, it went on to sell over 20,000 copies and earned them Album of the Month in UNCUT again happening the following year with their following album, The Fitzgerald. The press snowballed with those and the following three albums which saw the band playing Green Man, Primavera, End of the Road Festivals while building a loyal following over the last 11 years.