The Moon Was Blue (Dualtone)
Playing July 28 at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge
If you believe the industry scuttlebutt, Bobby Bare's forthcoming record, The Moon Was Blue, gets an indie-rock treatment along the lines of Van Lear Rose, Loretta Lynn's Grammy-winning collaboration with producer and guitarist Jack White. It doesn't. Instead, the recordwhich was co-produced by Bobby Bare Jr. and Mark Nevershas more in common with Bare Sr.'s classic work from the late '60s and early '70s than anything else.
The Moon Was Blue is Bare's first record in over a decade, but it's been almost a quarter century since he had a single on the charts. Back then, Bare's run was one of country music's most impressive; hits like "Miller's Cave," "Detroit City" and "Marie Laveau" were crossover anomalies that blurred distinctions among country, folk and pop. After his record sales slipped during the '80s, Bare continued to wield his "country legend" status by nurturing a devoted following in the U.K. and occasionally releasing critically acclaimed, if commercially ignored, records here at home. Throughout his career, Bare has bridged the country and rock worlds but has avoided the "country-rock" label, in large part due to a consistent vocal style and an unwillingness to chase trends.
Given Bare's connection to the rock community, it's understandable that people might associate The Moon Was Blue with Van Lear Rose. Like Jack White, its producers are well-known in indie circles, Bare Jr. as the leader of both his namesake band and The Young Criminals' Starvation League, Nevers as a producer for Lambchop, Calexico and The Silver Jews. But while Van Lear Rose mashes Lynn's traditional songwriting and vocals against distorted guitars and a ramshackle rhythm section, The Moon Was Blue, which is a collection of standards, re-creates the easygoing, countrypolitan sound of the elder Bare's classic hits. Only an occasional bleep or buzz is left in the mix as evidence of the modern sensibilities of the album's producers.
The record's version of "Am I That Easy to Forget?," for example, begins with guitar feedback but is quickly brought back to earth by Bare's ursine growl. The feedback returns for the solo section, but the song, which has been recorded by everyone from Don Gibson to Engelbert Humperdinck, is otherwise a faithful re-creation of the sophisticated, late-'60s Nashville sound, complete with dry, brushed drums and strolling piano.
In the day, Bare was known for incorporating pop touches in his songs, and The Moon Was Blue makes use of such devices as well. The background singers on Wayne Walker's much-recorded "Are You Sincere?" repeat the line "Bobby, Bobby, Bobby" with a flirting mockery reminiscent of girl groups like The Shangri-La's. Similarly, the horn section on "Shine on Harvest Moon" brings to mind the schmaltzy orchestras of Ray Conniff and Mitch Miller.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Bares and Nevers would tap the era of standards for The Moon Was Blue. In the aftermath of the eponymous, frat-rock band Bare Jr., the younger Bare's work with The Young Criminals' Starvation League has taken a decidedly country and tradition-based turn. Likewise, Nevers and Lambchop have always embraced vintage Nashville sounds. (The band counts countrypolitan producer Billy Sherrill among its influences.) Add to that Bare Sr.'s reputation as a consummate interpreter who isn't swayed by fashion, and the album's reliance on convention makes sense.
Nevers and Bare Jr. take the full weight of Bobby Bare's previous work into account in the production of The Moon Was Blue. The record not only plays to Bare's interpretive strengths, it also respects his ability to cross genres without pandering to the musical flavor-of-the-month. Though not without its quirks, that approach provides an honest picture of a country music legend who, by all accounts, still has it.
It hardly seems news that the classic White Christmas is a corny show with contrivances,…
The shooting location for hard bodies gym was formerly the Paramus, NJ location of Tower…
This is like a flashback to the '80s, when Ted Turner was colorizing CASABLANCA and…
That clip is horrifying. It looks like postmortem makeup. Very uncanny valley.
AGGGHHHH that last picture!