Richard Inman 
Come Back Through

Independent • 2022

The intricacies in Richard Inman’s narratives and self-deprecating ballads mark a mature tone in his songwriting and speak volumes to his emotional intelligence. 

I was two-and-a-half songs into Richard Inman‘s album Come Back Through before I had to turn it off. I couldn’t take it anymore; the tears had overwhelmed me. I mean that quite literally. I was driving through rural southern Manitoba when “Cut Fences (Let God Sort em Out)” started to play, and, after the second chorus, I could hardly see what had become a blurry highway. After a short emotional reprieve, I turned the record back on and was greeted by a song called “100000 Tears.” Devastating. I have heard my fair share of tear-jerking country tunes, and at this point in my life, I thought I had numbed myself to the forlorn melodies and lamentations of the western variety. But alas, Inman broke through my calloused heart. 

Now reader, I also don’t usually write music reviews in this fashion or style. I often keep myself out of the writing, but something about Inman’s music struck me rather profoundly. I can’t objectively judge his songs because he is one of a few musicians who transcend my brain’s critical side. While one could undoubtedly analyze his songs as a regular critic — and they would easily hold up — his deep and personal songcraft resonates indescribably with me. But, in honour of Inman, his talent, and the time spent crafting this masterpiece, to the best of my ability, I will try to describe what I hear in Come Back Through

Through a great deal of classic country music analogies, Inman synthesizes the bitter complexities of a troubled life. Some call them clichés, but I think of them as universal truths — at least that’s what they feel like when Inman sings them. “There’s always starting late, there’s always chores to do, always a midnight calf I can barely make it to,” he sings on “Cost You Everything.” As someone raised feeding Herefords, I’m wise enough to know that when Inman talks of chores and calving season, he isn’t reminiscing about a slow-moving simple life; those are trying times. It’s a livelihood and salary dependent on a few very precarious weeks, but it can also be some of the most fulfilling and satisfying work. Like any great country songwriter, Inman pulls from the world around him. He directly acknowledges life’s struggles, both the most insufferable and joyous moments. 

Inman sings a great deal about gambling, drinking, horses, and old friends. Meeting up with an old buddy to drink Coors and talk debts brings up the memories of a forgotten life for Inman on “Come Back Through.” “Take a second, take a day, take the scenic drive/ But always come back through when you’re away,” he croons; his mournful baritone delivery, blended with the sobriety of honest reflection, brings an extra layer of dynamism to an already impeccable song. 

I could listen to Inman sing about VLTs, ranching, and trucks all day, but his songs about love are where his artistry truly shines. When he sings, “You looked over at me, half-smiling through the sadness in your eyes” on “The Bottle or the Truth,” he crystallizes the complexity of failing relationships with just a few simple words. He flips between candid truths and poetic metaphors with artful ease. “I can hear you in the stillness/ A prayer on the west wind like a dove/ And I wake up with you somewhere else/ Just a memory and a dream of what once was,” sings Inman on “The Bottle or the Truth.” Inman’s love songs are never clear-cut, simple, or make remarks to specific wrongdoings; life is far more complicated in the world Inman sings about. The intricacies in his narratives and self-deprecating ballads mark a mature tone in his songwriting and speak volumes to his emotional intelligence. 

The humanity in Come Back Through makes me an honest man. They help me reflect on my own history, wrestle with my future, and that honesty helps me grow.

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