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Bobby Bare Jr.

A Storm, A Tree, My Mother's Head

(Thirty Tigers; US: 31 Aug 2010; UK: Import)

Bobby Bare Jr. may be known for his dad’s career in country music, but while Bare Jr. certainly touts his love for country in his own work, he also searches out and mines plenty of different textures. His new record, A Storm, A Tree, My Mother’s Head, may be his best, most varied set yet. There’s the guitar assault of tracks like “Your Goat Is on Fire” and “Lost in a Puzzle” butting right up against the dusty balladry of the title track and the dreamy “Don’t Go to Chattanooga”. Textures move from thick atmosphere to threadbare confession, and Bare’s lightly worn voice serves as the perfect conduit for both alt-country rockers and heartbroken folk tunes. Moments like that title track—based on a true accident his mother survived—reveal a subtle depth of emotion that Bare Jr. seems to channel more and more effortlessly with each release. He does still indulge his goofy side a bit too much—the gun-shot “Pow!” he shouts at the end of “One of Us Has Got to Go”, the hipster monster-mash of “Rock and Roll Halloween”—but this new record is a confident, well-executed and, most importantly, affecting set that wins us over with charm, and keeps us listening with clever turns and honest intimacy.

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Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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