Melancholy, decidedly disheveled, and rootsy, Young Criminals' Starvation League is a captivating and timeless collection of countrified dirges that sound as if they were rendered on a back-porch shanty somewhere in rural America. An therein lies the charm of Bobby Bare Jr.. With a cracked voice and broken spirit, Bare's astute observations of life's little victories and big failures are delivered with all the grace of a lingering hangover. Gallows humor abounds, especially in "Dig Down," a self-deprecating dialogue targeting a myriad of rock stars who stand accused of sucking up all the brilliant ideas while leaving the over-the-counterculture generation in a retro daze. "Monk at the Disco" pumps up the Americana engine akin to post-psychedelic-era Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers. Abetted by ramshackle renditions of the Smiths' "What Difference Does It Make" and Shel Silverstein's "Painting Her Fingernails," both of which capture the pathos and misery-loves-company splendor of the originals, Bare Jr. wears his heartbreak rather well.
AllMusic Review by Tom Semioli