Many will interpret 13 Hillbilly Giants as Robbie Fulks' return to the alternative country fold after an experiment or two in pop and rock. And what better way to return than to record 13 classic, if lesser-known, country music songs? The simple arrangements, straight from a two-track tape, give songs like Frankie Miller's "Family Man" a natural feel. Equally uncomplicated is Fulks' production, mixing fiddles, mandolins, and dobros to the left and right channels and leaving his voice front and center. The material runs the gauntlet, from drinking songs like Bill Anderson's "Cocktails" to heart-wrenching weepers like Dolly Parton's "Jeannie's Afraid of the Dark." Fulks proves quite versatile vocally, though he perhaps gets carried away with a crying jag in "I Want to Be Mama'D" and the comic histrionics in "Knot Hole." There's a lovely, sad version of "Bury the Bottle With Me," the story of a man who recounts his hell-bent tale as he looks over his own grave, and a marvelous take on the lust-driven ballad "Burn on Love Fire." It should also be mentioned that Donna Fulks offers fine harmony and background vocals on songs like "Cocktails." Fulks says in the liner notes that he wanted to introduce his audience to older country music on 13 Hillbilly Giants. Toward this goal he succeeds, offering a piece of hillbilly history tailor-made for the alternative country crowd.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.