The title of Rich Mahan's debut solo album is explained in a short sleeve note that tells of his Dad's stress-breaking routine of playing country songs at home like Tequila Shelia, songs that had a beat, some bounce and not a little humour. Mahan has recorded Blame Bobby Bare in Nashville and co-produced it with Brian Harrison. It is recorded with a warm analog sound which is perfectly suited to the music's 70's outlaw country ambience.
Though all but one of the songs (Bob McDill's Put A Little Lovin' On Me) are written by Mahan throughout, they feel so familiar you feel you have known them a long time. They feel easy and are enjoyable slices of a soulful country that seems to have largely been eradicated from the airwaves.
There are some top-notch players involved here too. PT Gazell’s harmonica playing adds the same kind of colour as it did when was he was playing with Johnny Paycheck. Steel player Robby Turner is a legend and there are a bunch of other fine players involved which include the solid rhythm section of Bryan Owings and David Phenecie. Add to that some sterling guitar, keyboard and brass playing and you have an album that's sounds damn good. But without a vocalist that has the strength to hold it all together you may not have the whole enchilada.
But no worries here, as Mahan has the voice to carry the frontman role with ease, giving each of the songs the right feel. From the mariachi trumpet /accordion enhanced humour of Tequila Y Mota - a great track detailing a weekend bender. Favourite Shirt is about a call to locate the missing titular item that leads to something more rewarding. Mama Found My Bong is a pretty self explanatory story of teenage misadventure. Drink holds a prominent role in many of Mahan songs especially Rehab's For Quitters and I'll Get Of The Booze.
There is a soulful Southern element here too when Bekka Bramlett joins Mahan on several songs and making a sterling contribution to the vocals. You might blame Bobby Bare for thi, s but you can also thank him for being the inspiration for Rich Mahan. This is a easy-fitting favourite shirt of an album that even if you are new to it will soon feel like that warm and worn garment. Try it on – see how well it fits.