Critical Voices: Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones, Foreverly

December 5, 2013

It’s not every day you have Green Day’s frontman and Ravi Shankar’s daughter getting together to a record an album, but that’s exactly what happened with Foreverly.

The LP is a tribute to early rock and roll group The Everly Brothers and a mixture of classic folk country songs as covered by punk rocker Billie Joe Armstrong and jazz-pop singer Norah Jones.

The pair might seem perfectly at odds with each other in both genre and musicianship, but their chemistry is paralleled by only some of the best life-long partnerships in music. Armstrong and Jones nail the Everlys’ tight-knit harmonies and weave their voices together in an evocative blend of sound. Armstrong’s gruff and nasal voice intersects with Jones’ smooth, mid-range vocals to create that authentic, high lonesome sound that these songs originally embodied. This sound is nowhere more apparent than on the ballad “Long Time Gone,” in which Armstrong and Jones’s voices embody the sound as well, if not better, than most country singers today.

The album is ambitious in that Armstrong and Jones try to create an LP that is not just a tribute album. Rather, it is a reimagining of the entire Everly Brothers’ album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.

Armstrong and Jones not only breathe new life into these songs, they do it well. Through musical touches like pedal-steel guitar lines and the use of a stand-up bass, many of the tracks on Foreverly are fresh yet reminiscent of a past era. They throw fiery fiddle on “Barbara Allen,” bluegrass-style twangy harmonica on “Roving Gambler,” and California surf inspired electric guitar work on “Oh So Many Years.” Songs like “Lightning Express” and “Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet” sound like they were recorded alongside the Everlys.

The title is cheesy, but Foreverly is not to be judged by its cover. Armstrong and Jones give not only a fabulous tribute to the Everly Brothers, but introduce new classics to a new generation of listeners.


Voice’s Choices: “Lightning Express,” “Barbara Allen”


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