Richmond Fontaine - We Used to think the Freeway Sounded like a River

Anthony Page 27/08/2009

Rating: 4/5

Richmond Fontaine are a four piece country band led by singer-songwriter, Willy Vlautin. Also amongst their number is Sean Oldham (drums, vocals), Dave Harding (bass) and Dan Eccles (guitar), along with a few friends and family members they have made We Used To Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River, Richmond Fontaine's eighth studio album.

The Independent called Willy 'the Dylan of the dislocated', though like almost every modern artist hailed as the new Dylan, this is misleading. Richmond Fontaine - specifically, Willy Vlautin's singing voice - evokes Bruce Springsteen more than Dylan. Normally anything that has the Boss's anthemic inclinations leaves me cold, but Richmond Fontaine manage to find the right mix of subtlety and rousing guitar anthems to create a dark country album of great skill.

The darkness is no surprise, these songs were written while the band took a year long sabbatical due to the sudden death of Willy's mother. At home, in mourning, Willy crafted songs reflecting on his memories of family, love, relationships and his mother. Dark but full of hope, We Used To Think is an album for anyone who has lost someone, or reflected wistfully on love lost. Sounding like Bonny Prince Billy crossed with Springsteen's anthem-loving touch, this is a raw, eventually joyous country treat.