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Rugged country crooner Bobby Bare’s tough as nails reputation seems tempered somewhat, certainly if judged by his new album, the tellingly titled Things Change. Perhaps it’s the fact he’s witnessed the passing of so many of his contemporaries. Or, maybe he’s simply mellowing with age. Whatever the case, there are clearly some tears in his gruff demeanor, a combination of resignation and resilience that’s unavoidable because it’s consistently implied.
“The trouble with angels is that they all fly away,” Bare sings on “The Trouble With Angels,” one of many tracks that convey that sense of weary reflection. Granted, songs that boast titles like “The End,” “Where Did It Go” and “Things Change” don’t necessarily bode well as far as optimism or determination are concerned. Yet on songs like the aforementioned title track or the jaunty “Ain’t No Sure Thing,” Bare seems more intent on trying acceptance. “Cowboy hats blow off in the wind. And women rule the world, not the men,” he sings over the sturdy banjo-inflected ramble that underscores “Things Change.” Given the fact that Bare can claim a good measure of credit for being among the forerunners of the so-called outlaw country movement, what with all its posturing, belligerence and bravado, any kind of concession as far as that macho attitude is concerned is certainly worth noting.