Friday, March 15, 2013

Shooter Jennings "The Other Life" Album Review

     After releasing Family Man in 2012, Shooter is right back at in 2013 with The Other Life.  Shooter dabbled in progressive rock and roll, and made big return to country with two albums in back to back years.  Family Man was strong, placing in my Top 5 Albums of the Year for 2012.  Is The Other Life just as strong?

     The Other Life is a widescaping album, hitting everything from progressive rock to classic country to southern rock and back again.  Shooter is one of the few artists who can pull off such a big variety.  I was slightly worried that two albums in back to back years may result in some mediocrity, but I was pleasantly surprised.

     The coolest thing about Shooter is that the highlights of the album come such different places.  "The Outsider" is a old school country groove song, reminiscent of his famous father Waylon Jennings.  Shooter mentions the bitter kiss that has been bestowed on the son of a rebel saint.  Shooter is constantly in his father's shadow, but rather than run from it or dispute it, he has embraced it.  He keeps his father's legacy alive while still being great on his own right.  That's hard to do, and I have all the respect in the world for Shooter because of it. This also shows itself in "The Low Road", where Shooter talks about the advice his father gave him about taking the high road in tough times.  However, as Shooter says, you have to man up and take the Low Road sometimes, and get your hands dirty.  This should be a huge radio hit, as it is honest, catchy, and appealing.  Shooter proves he has the chops to be a big radio star, but he will not sacrifice his dignity to do so.  This comes to fruition in the protest song "Outlaw You", where Shooter calls out the fake outlaws on the radio today.  Brantley Gilbert and Jason Aldean fans need to listen to this song and the tale of the true outlaws of country music.  There isn't necessarily anything wrong with these artists, but they need to know and understand that they can't throw the term outlaw around loosely.  Shooter isn't afraid to call out the posers and tell his father's story, and we are better off for it. "Outlaw You" is simply a must listen if you are a country music fan.

     The title track is a straight up old school classic country weeper.  Shooter digs deep, discussing the dilemma of being a family man and a music star at the same time.  Shooter lives between these two lives, and you can hear the pain in his voice.  "Wild and Lonesome" is similar, with a classic vibe, and cool lyrics.  Patty Griffin adds some wonderful harmony to this track.  These are two of the biggest highlights of the album.  For someone with a reputation of a rocker, Shooter really sounds his best at these painful, emotional songs.  He has had some great ones over the years, and these add to his legacy.

     The guests on this album really add to the sound.  I already mentioned Patty Griffin on "Wild and Lonesome", but their are more special guests.  Jim Dandy guests on "15 Million Light-Years Away".  His voice is abrasive and different, most definitely an acquired taste.  I think it works in the song, however.  It is not my favorite song on the album, but it is a good addition nonetheless. The song has a classic Jennings backbeat, and some introspective lyrics.  It's certainly different, and Shooter has never been afraid to be different. The coolest guest spot comes in on "The White Trash Song" with Scott H. Biram.  Biram has an amazing soulful voice that can't be missed.  His spot is small, but it should be enough to introduce him to more fans.  Biram and Shooter sound great together on this country rocker.  It is straight up country and lots of fun.  I would buy a Shooter Jennings/ Scott H. Biram duet album.

     Shooter lays down the law on the closing track, "The Gunslinger".  It certainly isn't your mama's country song.  Shooter drops m-f-ers like its goin out of style.  There's sure to be a lot of hoopla over who this song was written about.  I have my guesses, but I don't need to stir this pot so I will keep that to myself.  I will say this though: This song is tough.  I am usually not one for the language, but in this context you certainly feel Shooter's anger come through.  The song has cool vibe, and really is a good representation of what Shooter is all about: Old school country music with a rock edge and a ton of badassery.

     I wouldn't call this album perfect, although it is very strong.  The intro song "The Flying Saucer Song" may attract some Pink Floyd lovers, but it really didn't do anything for me.  Too trippy and strange sounding.  Also, many of the songs have a strange echo effect on the vocal track.  It gives a lot of the album a "live" feel.  I get what Shooter intended with this, and I don't think it kills the album, but I feel it could be toned down a bit at times.  But, to each their own.  These aren't enough to keep me from loving this album.

    Overall, The Other Life is a great album.  It has something for everyone, and has serious backbone.  Welcome back to country, Shooter!  Pair this with Family Man and go have yourself a hell-raising hillbilly time kids!!!!

Standout Tracks: "Outlaw You", "The Outsider", "The Other Life", "The Low Road", "The Gunslinger"

Outlaw You

The Other Life

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