For this album, Bare picks a playlist of 16 longtime favorites ranging from traditional folk songs to recent hits. The ones that work the best are the classics. Bare's husky baritone and truck driver-friendly delivery are perfect for the Woody Guthrie classic Going Down The Road Felling Bad
and the loping Boll Weevil
, a tune he learned from Tex Ritter back in the 1950's. Farewell Angelina
, a Dylan tune made famous by Joan Baez, is delighfully simple, a thoughtful interpretation steeped in mandolin and fiddle. Lookout Mountain
, written by ace Nashville songwriter and longtime friend Dennis Linde, has just enough electric guitar to make it rock, while still maintaining its country vibe.
Also included are a trio of murder ballads (John Hardy, Tom Dooley and The Devil and Billy Markham), a heartbreaking reading of Merle Travis' Dark As A Dungeon and a stunning, gospel-infused take on the old sea shanty Shenandoah.
There are a few cuts here that don't quite work: House Of The Rising Sun drags its heels, making 4 minutes seem like 10, and I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, sentiment notwithstanding, comes off as maudlin under the weight of Bare's baritone.
But these are small complaints within the context of a beautifully recorded album. Bare sounds great, his material is generally spot-on, and the production and arrangements are economical and efficient. A strong record from a man still going strong at 77.