Returning to RCA after a stint at Mercury Records, Bobby Bare teamed up with songwriter Shel Silverstein for 1973's Bobby Bare Sings Lullabys, Legends and Lies. The idea of the record is clearly laid out in the title -- this album is a collection of American tall tales and myths, all filtered through Silverstein's signature humor (sometimes silly, sometimes clever, sometimes sentimental, sometimes slyly lewd) and delivered with Bare's signature warm, friendly manner. Although Bare had recorded a song or two of Shel's before, this was the first time that he devoted a full album to his material. But more noteworthy is that this album finds the singer developing a loose, offhand way of performance that emphasizes both his character and the freewheeling eclecticism of his music. Musically, it's not far removed from his Mercury records, where his progressive country rubbed shoulders with pop, rock, and folk, but his laid-back, open-ended performances let the music breathe, while the Silverstein songs give the album cohesion and an overt, welcome sense of humor. All this helped reignite Bare's career, giving him a new signature sound that carried him through the next few years, until he left RCA for Columbia, where he just got rowdier. It was also the biggest album of his career, spending 30 weeks on the Billboard country charts (where it peaked at number five), with a number one hit in "Marie Laveau" and a number two single in "Daddy What If." Years later, it still stands as one of his very best -- maybe it didn't produce classics like "Detroit City," nor does it have as brilliant highs as some earlier and later records, but song for song, Bare was rarely this consistent or enjoyable.
Bobby Bare Sings Lullabys, Legends and Lies Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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