Album: Richmond Fontaine

$87 and a Guilty Conscience (Decor)
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Like the JJ Cale set, this is largely outtakes, but from just one album, Richmond Fontaine's Thirteen Cities. Using that record's "$87 and a Guilty Conscience That Gets Worse the Longer I Go" as a springboard, eight songs track the winds of moral compromise, rootlessness and apathy afflicting those who are clinging to the American Dream by fingertips alone: characters like the aimless hitchhiker of "Song For James Welch"; the wastrel living with his mom in "Moving Back Home #1"; the ne'er-do-well working a dead-end job "loading boxes that no one needs and I can't afford" in "The Water Wars"; and the wandering narrator of the title track, his conscience creaking so badly under a friend's brazen amorality that he shops him to the cops and carries on alone. Spattered with references to locations drawn from American mythography – Montana, San José, etc – and unflinching in their rejection of Hollywood happy endings, Willy Vlautin's songs are downbeat tableaux in the short-story tradition of Carver and Bukowski, narrated against the tints and stains of a subtle Americana country-rock.

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'Moving Back Home #1', 'The Water Wars', '$87 and a Guilty Conscience That Gets Worse the Longer I Go'