Published Apr 15, 2014Bobby Bare, Jr. wasn't content to hitch a ride with his Country Music Hall of Fame father or the Nashville royalty around whom he grew up. His musical output on three, now four, Young Starvation League albums has been nothing if not diverse, alternating between indie rock, dream pop, bluegrass and country. It's clear that this guy has soaked up too much music to commit to any one genre, and Undefeated is a satisfying addition to Bare's generally upbeat, hard-to-pin-down sound.
This time around, Bare tackles wrecked relationships and parenthood in his usual heart-on-sleeve style, equal parts funny and dark. "If she cared where I was/ Then I wouldn't be here with you right now/ If she cared where I was/ Then I'd be right back where I really want to be," he croons on the ooh-la-la-la infused "If She Cared." The title of "My Baby Took My Baby Away" more or less speaks for itself, while "Blame Everybody (But Yourself)" and "As Forever Became Never Again" offer the pardon-me-while-I-punch-this wall hand-wringing we've been waiting for since "Don't Wanna Know" and the spooky "The Elegant Imposter."
"Undefeated" implies that Bare is anything but. The ten songs here threaten at times to up and wander off, but Bare manages to hold everything together with some strong songwriting and unusual, borderline retro arrangements. Heartache rarely sounds this good. (Bloodshot)