image From the End of Your Leash
Bobby Bare Jr.’s Young Criminals’ Starvation League
Release: Jun 22, 2004
Bloodshot Records

I’m not going to lie to you.  This album is one of the finest albums I’ve heard in a long time!  I have to confess it’s been in constant rotation since I picked it up.  I wasn’t going to do a review because it came out 3 months shy of a year ago, but it merits the justice of proper praise no matter its shelf life.

Bobby Bare Jr. is the son of Bobby Bare, a country star of the 60’s and 70’s.  For obvious reasons, Bare Jr. had quite a unique upbringing and his song writing is not naive of that fact.  His lyrics are soaked with literal terms.  There’s not too much room for profound metaphor or hidden implication because Bobby Bare Jr. is a country singer and just like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, or Willie Nelson he’s a candid artist.

Cocaine, coffee, and queers

Can all be found down on that pier

And they all mean something special to someone

Snorting, sniffing, or smooching with someone

Let’s rock and roll, let’s rock and roll

The lyrical honesty is what makes From the End of Your Leash great but the musicianship from Andrew Bird, Paul Burch, Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard), Will Oldham (Palace Bros.), Paul Niehaus (Calexico, Lambchop), and Deanna Varagona (Lambchop) is what takes the album over the edge.  The standard country instruments fit like a snug glove to Bare’s vocals.  His gruff, gutter whimpers and yells place the listener in an almost awkward place.  A mixture of embarrassing confessions in Your Adorable Beast and confrontational interventions in The Terrible Sunrise (My favorite cut on the album) smacks the listener into Bare’s world.

You’ll hold From the End of Your Leash in high regard if you like Cash, Jennings, or any old country and blues.  The only thing you’ll have to worry about after a few listens is trying to fight the urge to sing along at the top of your lungs.