Bobby Bare Jr. knows music. He grew up in the shadow of his father, lived next door to George Jones & Tammy Wynette, earned a Grammy nomination at 6 and wrote songs with the great Shel Silvertein. In 2006, he co-produced his father’s album The Moon was Blue. A Storm—A Tree—My Mother’s Head counts as Bare’s first studio album in almost four years. During his career, Bare has toured with Bob Dylan, The Black Crowes, The Drive By Truckers, My Morning Jacket, Aerosmith, Centro-matic, The Bottle Rockets, Andrew Bird and the Old 97s.
In May 2010 Bare wrote about the title song on A Storm—A Tree—My Mother’s Head: “It was the last day of January 2008—I was in Seattle and my dad was somewhere in Florida—and my mom sat alone during a thunderstorm on a couch in the house our family bought in 1970 in Hendersonville, TN just outside of Nashville. It is a long ranch house that sits on a tall hill directly above Old Hickory Lake, surrounded by 1,000 year-old Beech trees. Well the storm outside that night pushed one of those old hollow trees further than it could bend and the broken tree split the house in half, beneath that tree was the roof, 2 x 4s, insulation, and my frightened mother screaming while trying to figure out if she was dead or alive, crippled or broken. The tree had broken two vertebra in her neck and she was the only one who could call 911—so from her rainy den she did—and within a year she and the house recovered. She is lucky to be alive and being a good, loving, Nashville songwriting son that I am, I got a good song out of her tragedy—as well as a title to my next record.”
These songs were recorded in Nashville in two days. Bare, known for his sense of humor, paints vivid musical stories on this CD. In the album bio, Bare wrote about this collection of songs: “I only know that I included Opie Taylor—Liz Taylor—Darth Vader—murder—cheeseburgers—lies—cheating—Jesus—guns—lipstick (not red lipstick though)—Elvis (2 times)—drunks—muscles—fish—Chattanooga—naked swimming at night—wet goats—flaming arrows—blood—bicycles—metal stitches—Jesus Lizard t-shirts—angry bugs—Kosher Oreos—The Dixie Chicks—Necrophilia—and my Mother’s head (you can even hear her screaming on the song).”
“Your Goat Is On Fire” opens the disc with a keyboard and drum sound that retain a pop quality, peppered with great guitar-playing. “Sad Smile” retains a flutter beat that evokes images in sad rooms or lonely bars brought on by a lover’s lips. Make no mistake, Bare’s ability to write great songs becomes verified as this track fades…
Another example of fine song-craft resides in “Don’t Go To Chattanooga”. This tune contains weeping pedal steel and other laid back sonic qualities that actually make the listener feel BETTER. “One of Us Has To Go” emerges as one of this collection’s strongest tracks—just the songwriter and his instrument telling a story. “Lost In A Puzzle”, another gem, should transfer well to a live audience. Bare’s music shakes off cobwebs from anything the listener becomes accustomed to hearing. The album’s title song, a 3-minute classic, serves as a fine marriage between poetry and music.
“The Sky On The Ground” contends as one of Bare’s most formidable compositions. The production of this disc weaves an interesting thread through the song sequence that stitches together a diverse musical tapestry. “Rock and Roll Halloween” presents a sly carnival rock & roll scene right before your very eyes. “Jesus Sandals” tells a memorable tale about a special pair of shoes. “Liz Taylor’s Lipstick Gun” evokes a grin for fond memories of the silver screen. Bobby Bare Jr. and Patterson Hood should write an album of songs together…what a film that would inspire. “But I Do” ends this collection with a heart-rending coda that would make Tom Waits proud.
A Storm—A Tree—My Mother’s Head ranks as one of this year’s best releases, but these songs resonate a timelessness that reach beyond our years…