Bobby Bare Sr., responsible for one of country’s first concept albums not penned by Willie Nelson (1973’s Bobby Bare Sings Lullabys, Legends, and Lies, a collaboration with enduring buddy and lyricist Shel Silverstein), is notorious for mucking up Nashville tradition, threading horns and various outlaw accoutrements into classic country songs. Son Bobby Bare Jr. is a no less uncompromising foe, now indicting Nashville for its contemporary woes: dudes neglecting to mop up their own barf, cops packing capos, cokeheads with crap stuck in their teeth, bulldozing producers spinning turds into gold, and all the country stars stuffed in pickup bars, playing Japanese guitars.
“It was easy growing up for me in Nashville,” Bare admits in his trademark yelp, front-loading his pedigree, which includes a duet-with-Dad Grammy nomination at five, and disclosing how he was, unsurprisingly, “born at the Ryman Auditorium, during the Martha White portion of the Grand Ole Opry.” Nashville custom may be splattered all over this record, but From the End of Your Leash, Bare’s second full-length without his band Bare Jr., is more about the guy’s plucky rock tendencies (periodic distortion and feedback, big throaty warbles, a hollered “motherfucker”) than rote country nostalgia.
The oddly boisterous and horn-heavy “Valentine” sees someone’s sweetie slaughtered for being too mean, with Will Oldham (who released a smarmy Music City homage of his own earlier this year) squawking backing harmonies; “My Favorite Hat” is a breathlessly exuberant duet with singer-songwriter Carey Kotsionis, all cartwheeling vocals and frantically pounded guitars. In true Nashville form, the record features 19 credited players (including Andrew Bird on violin), all of whom contribute solid gleaming bits to Bare’s quirky pop-rock. Cheerful group participation is unsurprising: As Bare giddily divulges, playing in Nashville can “even earn you a rhinestone suit!”