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Foreverly - Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones album review - Oldies music

The Green Day frontman and pop-jazz chanteuse cover a classic Everly Brothers LP

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billienorahforeverly.jpg

When the Everly Brothers recorded Songs Our Daddy Taught Us in 1958, they were capitalizing on the folk boom of the time by revisiting country standards straight from Appalachia. Now a very unlikely pair of pop-culture heroes take on that covers album in its entirety, and they manage to not only capture the spirit of these songs for Americana millennials, but also to somehow replicate those amazing, legendary Everly harmonies. Do they connect with this history, though, or merely reflect it?    

Billie Joe + Norah's Foreverly 

(Buy direct!)

  • Release date: November 15, 2013
  • Label: Reprise/WEA
  • Catalog Number: 540939
  • Musicians:

Billie Joe Armstrong: lead and harmony vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, pump organ
Norah Jones: lead and harmony vocals, piano, electric guitar, pump organ, chimes 
Charlie Burnham: harmonica, mandolin, fiddle 
Jonny Lam: pedal steel guitar
Tim Luntzel: bass guitar
Dan Rieser: drums, percussion

  • Produced by Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones Engineered and mixed by Chris Dugan
    Assistant Engineer: Kabir Hermon
    Mastered by Greg Calbi
    Art direction: Chris Bilheimer

 

​Pros

  • Could these two possibly sound like the Everlys? They get pretty close. 
  • These country standards are treated with just enough reverence.
  • As gimmicks go, this is a refreshing one -- and way out of left field.

Cons

  • The end result is more of an Americana exercise than a tribute to Phil and Don..

 

My review:

Even if you had your ear very close to what passes for the entertainment industry these days, you probably didn't see this one coming: the woman who legitimized lite jazz again and the guy who singlehandedly mainstreamed SoCal punk have somehow joined forces to re-record an entire Everly Brothers album from the late Fifties. The twist, if you still need one, is that the album in question is itself a series of covers, a return-to-roots assortment of Appalachian country standards appropriately entitled Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. Seems that Billle Joe Armstrong, cofounder, guitarist, and lead singer of Green Day, realized his vocal range was exactly the same as Phil Everly's, while Norah's was exactly as low as brother Don's.

Actually, that last part isn't true; Billie simply came across the original LP, had the good sense to fall in love with it, and, realizing he needed a second voice, called in Norah, whom he'd just met on tour. It certainly sounds like they were looking to match vocal fingerprints when you first hear the album, though -- these two can't be expected to have the perfect blend of actual siblings who'd harmonized almost since they were toddlers, but they do mesh so well it doesn't matter. Norah takes most of the twang, and Billie takes most of the vibrato, and it all works out.

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