Bobby Bare is a country legend. His smooth baritone, relaxed drawl and variously warm, witty and wistful interpretations of songs by such master songwriters as Shel Silverstein, Bob McDill and Tom T Hall gave us some of the most acclaimed country albums of the 20th century.
With the passing of the years Bobby, now 77, has lost the warm and mellow voice that delivered classic Bare tunes such as "Streets Of Baltimore", "(Margie's At)The Lincoln Park Inn" and "Detroit City". In its place is a weathered and haunted voice, sometimes flat and often strained, as he pays his respects to some classic and traditional folk songs - "Shenandoah", "Banks Of The Old Ohio", "John Hardy" - and newer songs by Bob Dylan ("Farewell Angelina") and U2 ("I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For").
This may have been an album that Bobby waited 25 years to make but he just doesn't seem at ease with most of the material. "Banks Of The Old Ohio" is off key, he sounds weary on "House Of The Rising Sun" and he brings nothing new to "Tom Dooley". And that is the problem: these songs are so familiar, they have been heard countless times and Bobby's bleak voice makes them sound tired and old.
Of the later material the U2 song is among the best thanks to some sterling guitar by Buddy Miller and he does make a connection with the past in "The Devil And Billy Markham" recalling those halcyon days with composer, Shel Silverstein..
But the best tracks on the album are the two songs that Bobby wrote: "Woody" and "I Was A Young Man Once". These are enchanting songs written and performed in the classic Bare style and he sounds as much at ease singing them as I was listening to them.
Bobby Bare is no stranger to traditional old chestnuts and his past catalogue includes such gems as Delia's Gone" and "Long Black Veil". But while Bobby may have wanted to record some more old chestnuts the album has an air of experimentation about it and, at this stage in his career, he didn't need to do it.
as a bobby bare fan for over forty years, I was apprehensive about this cd .his voice is not as rich as it was,after all he's sevent seven years old. but the magic is still there I enjoyed most all of the sngs on offer even the old ones we don't hear that often. if your an old fan take a chance you won't be disappointed he still has what it takes.
Bobby Bare is an old tiger of country music.At no time has he ever been written off. Just to prove it he has produced a cd rich in the very best of country songs.His voice resonates through each number and turns the light into darkness whether it turns the banks of the old ohio into the ultimate tragedy and none has yet surpassed his performance. He once sang a song entitled The Winner and that is exactly what he is. Simply the best.