Do you think it’s kinda hard being Shooter Jennings? I imagine living under the pressures and outside expectations of being Waylon’s son would probably make life difficult for a lesser man. I have been a fan since his debut record so I was looking forward to seeing what direction he would take Shooter (Low Country Sound) in, especially since his last album Countach (for Giorgio) was a tribute to famed electronic music pioneer Giorgio Moroder. You gotta love an artist who keeps you on your toes.
Recorded at famed RCA Studio A with producer Dave Cobb (Isbell, Stapleton, Sturgill, you get the point) Shooter is as fun and relaxed an album as Jennings has made in a while. [For our interview with Dave Cobb, click any of these bolded words here.] The album instantly grabs you with “Bound ta Git Down” with its country boogie and in your face horns courtesy of Ben Clark and Nate Heffron. It plays like an updated version of Hank Williams Jr’s “Born to Boogie” and sets the tone for the songs that follow. Co-written with Cobb “Do You Love Texas”, a love song for the lone star state, would have found itself at home on one of his dad’s or Willie’s late 70’s albums. Adding to the good time, beer hall vibe are the raucous Hell Yeahs throughout the song, courtesy of Ray Benson, Kacey Musgraves, Randy Rogers, Jason Boland, Whiskey Myers and for good measure — Kris Kristofferson.
“Living in a Minor Key” is one of those mournful introspective songs that just grabs you and refuses to let go. This is hands down my favorite song on the album. The piano and steel guitar are featured prominently behind Jennings’ exposed-to-the-bone vocals. If lyrics like “When I was younger I had a hunger and I chased the thunder into the storm of regret” don’t make you turn the mirror on yourself I’m not sure what will. I feel this song is as close to understanding Shooter Jennings as we will ever get.
“Shades & Hues” sounds the most like a Waylon song and Jennings really plays this one up. “I’m Wild & My Woman is Crazy” has some great guitar picking and finally after five songs the horn section shows back up to kick an already upbeat song into overdrive. “Denim & Diamonds” wraps the collection and it stands out not just because it is a great song but because sonically, it has very little in common with the albums previous eight tracks. There is a dark underlying feeling to the song and the guitar and vocals have a 70’s Bad Company feel to It (and I mean this in the best way possible). They say to always leave ‘em wanting more and Jennings closes out Shooter with a mic drop and a walk off stage.
Shooter has everything you would expect from Jennings but it never rests on its laurels. Jennings has delivered an unabashedly classic country album. It doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. He is not pandering for a top 40 hit or trying to prove his alt-country credentials are still valid, he just wrote and recorded another solid album. This is the album that should (even though it won’t) serve as another wakeup call to Music Row that real country is vibrant and alive. Get your copy right here. http://shooterjennings.com/