The Moon Was Blue, which came out last year, was Bobby Bare's first new album in over a decade. It was co-produced by Mark Nevers and Bare's son Bobby Bare Jr. which has led some to compare it to Johnny Cash's time with Rick Rubin and Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose project produced by Jack White. Rubin and White definitely added some hip rock credibility, but Cash's and Lynn's own strenghs as musical artists were the real calling cards in their associations with their younger producers. Older musicians often just need someone to challenge and champion them with respect.
This is just what Bare Jr. and Nevers have done with Bobby Bare here. There are subtle traces of rock and roll on the album, like the feedback on "Everybody's Talkin", but most of the music recalls the Seventies countrypolitan sound of artists like Ray Price and Charlie Rich. It's a perfect match for Bare's mellowed baritone voice. The songs chosen are serious ones ranging in mood from poignant to sentimental, but done with an easy going assurance.
"I Am An Island" is given an appropriate Hawaiian flavor. "Everybody's Talkin" is given a bossa nova touch. The album's title comes from a line in "Yesterday When I Was Young" and Bare does a great job on this tearjerker. Bare always has a way with a Shel Silverstein song and "The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan" is a highlight with its theme of exhausted suburban ennui. "Shine On Harvest Moon" sounds like what you'd get if Brian Wilson had decided to produce country music in the Sixties; Nevers and Bare Jr. are the ones really doing the shining on that one.
Let's hope Bare Jr. can get his daddy into the studio more often. The Moon Was Blue is available from Dualtone Records.