Bobby Bare Jr.
There’s a house for rent in Nashville; it belongs to native son Bobby Bare Jr. Not that he can vacate Nashville – no matter where he travels, the city is in his DNA. His dad is Country Music Hall-of-Famer Bobby Bare; his neighbours were Tammy Wynette and George Jones. Bare Jr. has said that the worst and best music ever made was recorded in Nashville. So the question of whether the city is carry-on baggage held close to the heart or jetsam best left on the luggage carousel plays out in Bare Jr.’s songs. When his dad told him to get out of the business, he did – kind of – bolting away from tradition to collaborate with indie rock sweethearts My Morning Jacket, Frank Black, and more recently Guided By Voices. He didn’t even go pro until he was 30. But when he finally hit the C&W scene, Bare Jr. made an impression. In the late '90s he recorded two albums, and then, on his stunning first release with the evolving line-up dubbed Young Criminals Starvation League, he unearthed Dig Down– five naked verses that captured the soul-stripping frustration of indie rock artists struggling to find untrammelled ground. He has learned how to leave audiences breathless, first from laughter due to his trenchant wit, and then in silence, as emotional hostages to his voice and guitar.
The Nashville clichés of his childhood lie in the rear-view mirror. Musical passion and precision is Bobby Bare Jr.’s slightly tilted hood ornament. His house is for rent in Nashville, but it will never be for sale.