Shooter Jennings set out to create a new country album but may have just created a new country classic. It’s layered with lots of great nods to the late ’70s, early ’80s country hits, while still retaining all the style that is, well, just plain Shooter.
Long time friend, producer, and guitar player on the album, Dave Cobb, did an excellent job of producing the album and also helped pen 4 of the tracks with Shooter. They seem to have a good writing relationship and while all the tracks are good, Shooter and Dave write some cool stuff together.
“Bound to Get Down” is a great kick start to the album and a fun autobiographical walk through his beginnings of getting into playing music. Shooter really has done it all and sets this one to some cool horns by Ben Clark & Nate Heffron. It’s an old school rock and roll rhythm that keeps your foot tapping the entire song.
“Do you love Texas?” is a straight ahead country song that was released a little ahead of the album to help the Rebuild Texas Fund after Hurricane Harvey. Shooter called some friends and ended up with an array of guest vocalists on the “Hell yeah” that include, Kris Kristofferson, Kacey Musgraves, Ray Benson ,Whiskey Myers, Randy Rogers, and Jason Boland.
Originally released on shooters 2014 Don’t Wait up for George, “Living in A Minor Key” could have easily been a good tune for George Jones to sing, but it wasn’t meant to be. Co-written with Faren Miller, it’s a beautifully paced, heart-breaker of a song that is probably my favorite of the album.
“D.R.U.N.K” is a fun loving tune with lots of cool word play and a simple country song about a good day drinking. “Getting H I G H hi how you doing” and “gonna let that whiskey river carry me away” are a couple of cool turns of a phrase that he and Aaron Ratiere use. And, although they are not specifically listed on each track, you can hear the distinctive voices of both Kristen Rogers and Bekka Bramlett singing back up on this one as well as on “Shades and Hues”.
The way Shooter wrote “Shades and Hues”, to his credit, could have been pulled off of a Hank Williams Jr. album. The lyrics are superb and the music really took me back to a genre of country that was getting away from the traditional and mixing with a little of the swamp music coming out of the South in the late ’70s and ’80s.
“I’m Wild & My Woman is Crazy” is exactly what you would expect based off the title. While I tried to make the entire album review without mentioning Waylon, this one is probably the one that reminds me the most of his fathers music. Both in vocals and the music that accompanies the lyrics. It’s a great upbeat song that just continues the fun.
Shooter pours his soul out in “Fast Horses and Good Hideouts”. He’s telling the story of growing up, loss, and realizing the simplicity of those early days. He paints a great picture of friends and loved ones that have left and this song feels like a toast to those days and those that have gone ahead. Jennings and Cobb also share the songwriting credit with actor Randy Quaid as the line “Here’s to Fast Horses and Good Hideouts” came from a correspondence between Jennings and Quaid .
“Rhinestone Eyes” is a love song with beautifully simple harmonies in just the right spots. I’ve always thought that country did pure love songs the best and this is no exception. What else is there to say?
The last powerhouse on the album is “Denim and Diamonds” and gives off a funky “Legend of Wooley Swamp” vibe. It’s the story of a blue collar woman that works all week to get to that one true night off, Saturday night. It touches on all the familiar sentiments but Shooter and Dave Cobb again come together for a fresh take on it and a deeply funky musical blanket for the lyrics to lay on.
Along with the new album release, Shooter has been releasing some Youtube videos called “Hey Shooter! Variety Show” in the style of Hee Haw. They are pretty comical and accompany the releases of “Rhinestone Eyes”, “Fast Horses and Good Hideouts”, and “Denim and Diamonds”. He’s enlisted the help of a variety of friends including singer Ellie King, Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains, actor and sometimes singer Danny Cooksey, comedian Jenny Johnson, Danny Nordahl of multiple bands including Motorchrist, actor Mark Boon junior, singer Jaime Wyatt, guitar player Neal Casal, and multi-media artist Jesus Rivera.
Overall the album is great and a perfect reset of country music for himself, and the music he’s looking to make at the moment. He’s captured the feel and sound of the music that he enjoys and did a damn fine job of making a classic in the process.
Shooters touring all over the US and getting out to support him and his music is a great way to help keep good music flowing. Visit his website and see where he’ll be and go catch a show.