Darker Than Light by Bobby Bare
Bobby emerges from semi-retirement with a collection of true “folk songs,” along with his take on more modern classics such as U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
The 77-year-old singer/songwriter has the right world-weary voice to execute “Boll Weevil,” “Tennessee Stud,” “Tom Dooley” and others without sounding wearisome.
Contemporary vocalists in particular should pay special note to Bobby’s rendering of “I Was Drunk,” which has the ring of a guy who’s actually been there rather than someone trying to capitalize on the youth market. When he wails, I was exhausted, you can feel the desperation.
Bobby stays true to the intent of Bob Dylan’s “Farewell Angelina,” but plays a little too closely to the vest with his version of “House of the Rising Sun.” The real treat is the closer, “The Devil and Billy Markham,” based on a poem by Shel Silverstein that Bobby later laid down with a music track. His recitation is spot-on and you hang on every (occasionally naughty) word.
Overall, the production is perfection with primarily fiddles and acoustic guitars in play, keeping the record simple but never boring. Bobby has made a mostly remarkable record, one worth preserving and deserving of repeated plays.