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Bobby Bare

The Moon Was Blue – 2005 (Dualtone)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Bobby Bare

On his first solo album since 1983, Bobby Bare proves that while his voice has frayed with age, he can still change any song into a powerful personal statement.

Co-producers Mark Never and Bobby Bare Jr. ape '60s country crossover by employing cooing female back-up singers along with strings and horns. Most of the songs are pop hits from an earlier era that Bare essays with his trademark sense of laconic melancholy. As a result, the 11-song set has the feel of unfinished business finally being addressed. The country superstar brings shades of late-night, uptown jazz to "Are You Sincere." A sense of wry resignation emanates out of "Am I That Easy to Forget" and world-weary remembrance from "It's All in the Game."

At 70, Bare's vocals are a bit craggy, but his sure-fire dramatic instincts prevent such chestnuts as "Love Letters in the Sand" and "Shine on Harvest Moon" from becoming total schmaltz. Further, when he addresses such paeans to middle-class alienation as "Everybody's Talkin' At Me" and Shel Silversteins's "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan," he summons that folk-fed wanderlust that made him a legend. Not every moment is golden, but this is highly affecting work.