Robbie Fulks (right) is a bona fide smart ass who has almost too much talent for his own good. Reared in both the South and the Northeast and a graduate of Columbia University, Fulks emerged as an early star of the insurgent country movement that orbited Bloodshot Records in the mid '90s. His literacy and bright irreverence grabbed the ears of bemused critics with songs such as "She Took a Lot of Pills (and Died)" and "Fuck This Town," a blazing, one-finger salute to Nashville. Fortified by killer chops and stealth songwriting, the six albums he's released since 1996's Country Love Songs have moved from hard country and traditional twang to roots rock and concept pop; 2001's Couples in Trouble was a straightforward collection of hard-luck love stories. Georgia Hard, his first album in four years, is a return to country form, full of boot-stomping send-ups and Fulks's trademark self-deprecation. Highlights include "I'm Gonna Take You Home (and Make You Like Me)" and "Countrier Than Thou," a sideways tip of the hat to the alt-country diaspora. Welcome back, Robbie.