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The High Country

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Richmond Fontaine frontman Willy Vlautin has also written novels, including the well-received The Motel Life, and continues to bring a novelist’s eye for detail to his songwriting. Just as the band’s landmark Post to Wire was driven by a strong narrative, The High Country turns in an entrancing concept. It’s the story of two young lovers: the mechanic Claude and his girlfriend, who works at an auto parts store. Together, they yearn to leave the remote logging community that suffocates their dreams. Spoken-word passages and brief interludes chain the songs together, but it’s singer Deborah Kelly who, together with Vlautin, helps create the drama between the two lovers of life. A dreamlike ache haunts songs such as “Let Me Dream of the High Country,” “The Mechanic Falls in Love with the Girl," and “I Can See a Room.” Melodies drift in and out, reappearing in key spots, while strings and acoustic guitar gently guide the night. For a powerful break, “Lost in the Trees” throws growling electric guitars on top, in case anyone forgot that Richmond Fontaine can also really rock.


Formed: 1994 in Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Playing brittle and evocative alt-country with lyrics that draw powerful and sometimes troubling portraits of life along the margins of the contemporary American West, Richmond Fontaine is the brainchild of singer, guitarist, and songwriter Willy Vlautin, who was born in Reno, Nevada. When Vlautin was in his early teens, his older brother moved to Los Angeles and became interested in the many roots-influenced bands in the city's punk rock scene. He began sending Willy tapes of bands such as the Blasters,...
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The High Country, Richmond Fontaine
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