Filed by M. Trevor Higgins
Bobby Bare Jr. shares many common features with friend and My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James. Both are shaggy Southerners with wailing voices that can fill a grain silo. On Bare’s latest he borrows plenty musically from James as well, including MMJ drummer Patrick Hallahan, guitarist Carl Broemel and James’ own voice and harmonica.
The trio was part of a larger group including members of ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead and Lambchop that recorded the 11 songs on The Longest Meow in 11 hours at Nashville’s Ocean Way Studios in March.
So there are some hints of MMJ. But while James prefers the deep end of the musical pool, Bare is content to joyfully splash around in the shallow end. If James is Jell-O, jiggly and at times unstable, then Bare is sherbet, more stable but still a far cry from the vanilla ice cream of mainstream music.
That’s a lot of analogies, but Bare needs them. He drops plenty himself on opener of The Longest Meow. In Bionic Heart he tells the story of his resilient heart that is filled up with microscopic jets and supersonic blood. It’s a surging gem on an album that flirts with the strange, and satisfies at every hour.
Bare called the recording the most fun I have ever had with music in one day and tracks back up his story. Uh Wuh Oh is one minute and 58 seconds of musical party, with plenty of backing vocals and another great turn from Deanna Varagona on saxophone.
Every track, from the country slide of Back to Blue, to the sparse cover of Where is My Mind, seethe with the delight of their creation. The feeling transfers to the listener as well on an album demands attention as both freakish experiment and belle of the ball.
Four stars out of five.
E-mail M. Trevor Higgins at firstname.lastname@example.org