Shooter Jennings

Put the O Back in Country

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Shooter Jennings is the son of the late Waylon. This is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that because of his pedigree people will take the opportunity to check him out. The curse is that the comparison factor is inevitable and unfair. And since birthright is unavoidable here, we'll get this out of the way straight up: this is modern-day outlaw country music. This is rockin' country music. The title track goes a little far in terms of stressing its point -- including getting George Jones to slur his way through some introductory words. The very next cut, "4th of July" contains the same kind of pumped-up guitar-slinging grittiness and glory that the original outlaws did. It's loud, and has a killer hook and near-chanted refrain. "Lonesome Blues" is pure Texas country -- drawling, slow, full of pain and pathos. And so it goes. Jennings can write songs. The best of them, like the aforementioned "4th of July" is a quintessential Southern rocker; the acoustic "Sweet Savannah" and electric "The Letter" are fine busted love ballads that tell full-on stories, dig deep into country archetypes, and have fine choruses and hooks that are timeless. "Southern Comfort" sounds like a dead cross between Lynyrd Skynyrd's more laid-back moments and an outtake from Chris Whitley's Living with the Law, and features a backing chorus of Mom Jessi Colter, Faith Evans, and Cece White! In Jennings' singing voice there is the trace of his father's grain, but in his music he is unruly and fiercely independent; that's a compliment more than a comparison. This is a fine debut album. It has a miss here and there, but it's got soul and grit, and displays its creator's wealth of talent. Recommended.

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