Shooter Jennings is one of the most underrated individuals in the music industry today. The son of music royalty, Jennings has made his own identity throughout his career, making music the way that he has wanted. The result is two impressive modern country albums and an equally impressive and brave experiment in the form of his previous record, Black Ribbons. When Jennings released Black Ribbons, the initial reaction was mixed. But it showed his versatility and thus not only kept most of his audience, but also brought in a whole new faction of fans. Now on his most recent release, Family Man, Jennings has shown just as much versatility.
Family Man bears little resemblance, if any, to Shooter Jennings’ previous recordings. Its opener, ‘The Real Me’ is classic outlaw country with a touch of blues mixed in. Lyrically, it’s classic Shooter right along the lines of fellow outlaw country artists Hank Williams Jr., and Hank III. The song’s chorus is the best evidence of that. He sings in the song’s chorus, “I’m a double-talkin’/Chicken-lickin’/Meaner than the Dickens/Sick and wicked/Hole-diggin’, pickin’/Son of a gun/And I’ll love you like the devil/Bite you like a snake/And then forsake and break/Everything I don’t take before I am done.” The chorus itself is lyrically the heart of this song. But it’s the lyrical delivery of the chorus that makes it really hit. It’s almost a rap style delivery, for lack of better wording. Just hearing Shooter deliver the chorus in this manner is impressive. It’s something that audiences have rarely heard from him. Set against the rest of the song it simply stands out and makes the song that much more enjoyable.
Shooter shows more of his outlaw country side in the album’s opener. But he doesn’t stay in his safe zone on this record. He branches out, showing quite the mix of influences time and again. Just one example of that bag of musical influences is the album’s lead single, ‘The Dollar & The Deed.’ Jennings’ vocal style set against the music makes for an interesting combination of Bob Dylan meets Kenny Rogers mixed with a modern country love song. Stylistically speaking, Jennings’ vocal style in ‘The Deed & The Dollar’ invokes images of Bob Dylan. Coming from a musical standpoint, this song is classic country all the way. One of the best comparisons that can be made is to the likes of Kenny Rogers. Lyrically, the song is a good fit for any happy couple or hopeful happy couple to be. He sings, “She’s got a special way/Makes me happy every day/What do the old folks say…When I feel alone/She reminds me that there’s always tomorrow/I kinda wonder if she knows/My sun comes up/Just to hear her call.” If that’s not the basis for a romance, it’s anyone’s guess what is. And with Valentine’s Day already right around the corner, this would make for a fitting song to set a romantic mood.
Shooter gets soft at times on his new album. But he also shows that he’s got that outlaw still in him later in the album in the song, ‘Family Tree.’ This is not just country. It’s pure outlaw country and is bound to become one of his biggest hits with fans both on the album in live. He sings in this song, “We’re southern by God/Our name is mud/We’ve got each other’s backs/Cause we’ve got the same blood/Let the stock market crash/Cause we’ll always be free/We may be trash/But we’re family.” Simply put, this is an anthem for Shooter’s fans. It will light a fire under his fans and have them singing along and pumping their fists with pride at every one of his shows. And it’s just one more example of that makes this new album yet another success from one of this generation’s greatest all around musicians.
Jennings recently wrapped up his most recent tour in support of this album and is currently putting the finishing touches on a new album that’s due out in early 2013. Fans can keep up with his progress online at his official website, http://www.blackcountryrock.org/shooterjennings and his official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ShooterJennings.
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