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John WrayIt’s a cliché to compare a novel to a story overheard in a bar, but The Motel Life insists on the comparison. Willy Vlautin is the singer and songwriter for Richmond Fontaine, a band based in Portland, Ore., and the music he makes is very much like his writing: mournful, understated and proudly steeped in menthol smoke and bourbon. Slighter than Carver, less puerile than Bukowski, Vlautin nevertheless manages to lay claim to the same bleary-eyed territory, and surprisingly — perhaps even unintentionally — to make it new.
— The New York Times