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Album Review: Billie Joe & Norah Jones – Foreverly

Artist: Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong

Album: Foreverly

Year: 2013

Label: Reprise Records

Genre: Folk, Alternative, Indie, Alternative Country

This week I’m excited to share a sort of unorthodox throwback record from 2013. Foreverly is a beautiful reinterpretation of The Everly Brothers’ 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. Billie Joe Armstrong of punk/rock band Green Day had the idea to remake the brother’s record in its entirety. He listened to the album quite frequently and wanted more people to know about it. However, he wanted a woman’s voice to accompany him to broaden its meaning. When discussing with his wife about who would be a good fit, she suggested the seductively smoky vocals of jazz/pop singer Norah Jones, who he had previously met when the two sang together for Stevie Wonder.

Unorthodox, yes, but incredibly well executed by the unlikely duo. Foreverly debuted at #40 on the Billboard 200, and following the death of Phil Everly in 2014 the album climbed up the charts to #14. The 12 songs were recorded in a five-day session, save for one track which they had initially missed. After going back into the studio to record it, they then decided to tweak some of the others. Not wanting to copy the original, nor outdo it, Armstrong and Jones paid tribute to The Everly Brothers who, through Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, paid homage to their roots and upbringing in the height of their rock and roll days.

Stepping into the vocal shoes of The Everly Brothers, Armstrong into Don’s strong baritone, and Jones into Phil’s tenor, they bring an entirely new dynamic to the table with a romantic and sensual tension that, for obvious reasons, was not achieved by The Everlys. Although, much like The Everlys, Armstrong and Jones’ voices compliment one another stunningly. Neither vocalist is any more important than the other on any one track. Their voices meld together as one on such tracks as “Roving Gambler,” “Rockin’ Alone (In An Old Rockin’ Chair,) ” and “Kentucky.” Armstrong and Jones’ harmonies are hauntingly lonely on one of my favourite tracks, and the one that introduced me to the album, “Long Time Gone.” The two bring a warmth to many of the tracks where The Everlys didn’t quite capture, in my opinion. “Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine” is a perfect example of that. It’s a song I enjoy from both duos but prefer Armstrong and Jones’ take because of it.

Showcase albums such as Foreverly to the country music community is something I believe is absolutely vital. It shows that the music has done precisely what it was intended to do. Touch hearts. It gives me hope for Country Music when I see artists outside the genre not only interested in but wanting and willing to uphold the tradition and art of its style. Unfortunately, that same air of respect hasn’t seemed to translate into this new generation of country. I know this was a one-off project, but I would encourage the two to put together another album with the intentions and heart they had for Foreverly. Perhaps a reinterpretation of a George Jones and Tammy Wynette, or Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty record. Not only would they give some of the classics a new life, but they’d also bring with it new fans.

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