Richmond Fontaine’s third album Lost Son, released in 1999, is one of their bleakest works. There is no frivolity here, the music rages and rages through tracks like Saviour of Time, Ft. Lewis and Mule. The band come on much less like a country band, and much more like a speed-punk band. Guitars are pummelled, drums are pounded and Willy Vlautin clings on for dear life, telling his bleak stories.
It’s an easier listen when the music calms down a notch or two on Cascade, and on Contrails and later Four Hours Out we even get steel guitar from Paul Brainard. Girl In A House In Felony Flats is dirge-like, crawling along on guttural guitars, yet it’s strangely compelling. However few of the tunes are overly engaging.
Finally we get the devastating Hope & Repair, which manages to take the story into an even darker place, where a man takes in a prostitute only to see the whole thing end in blood and complete despair.
It’s exhausting to listen to and unremittingly bleak, not an ideal starting point for this band.