Bobby Bare Jr. – A Storm, A Tree, My Mother’s Head
By Kasey Anderson
Bobby Bare Jr.’s new album, A Storm, A Tree, My Mother’s Head, is as personal an album as he’s ever made, whatever that means. Bare’s songs have always been delivered with tongue planted firmly in cheek, an approach that makes his more confessional, sincere work either more or less effective, depending on the listener. The title track, which references a 2008 incident that nearly left Bare’s mother dead, is a gripping, somber tune that would feel out of place among the lighter fare (“Your Goat Is On Fire,” “Liz Taylor’s Lipstick Gun”) were Bare not so gifted a lyricist and singer.
Musically, Bare leaves hints of his Nashville roots, classic Country Music melodies and instrumentation weaving in and out of songs that hint at a move towards Springsteen territory.
The influence of Bare’s father, Bobby Sr., can be heard here, as well, which makes sense given that the elder Bare co-wrote three of the album’s tracks, including the album-closing “But I Do.” A Storm, A Tree… marks the second collaborative effort between father and son this year, as the two previously cultivated and contributed songs to the stellar tribute to Shel Silverstein, Twistable, Turnable Man.
Though many of the songs on the album offer several co-writing credits (including the stunning “Lost in a Puzzle,” which Bare wrote with David Vandervelde, Tom Blankenship, Carl Broemel, and Patrick Hallahan), the voice here is Bare’s, and it is a strong voice at that.
While A Storm, A Tree… may not stand among Bare’s best albums, those types of comparisons are more befitting artists who may have seen their best days. This profound, personal album leaves no question that Bare still has plenty of great work in front of him. – (6/10)
Bobby Bare Jr., still the coolest man alive, plays Bumbershoot’s Broad Street stage on Monday, September 6 at 12:30 p.m. We also heard he might stop by the Naked Albinos show at the Sunset Tavern next Wednesday, but this is only a rumor.