Foreverly review by Billie Joe Armstrong & Norah Jones

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  • Released: Nov 25, 2013
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.8 (34 votes)
Billie Joe Armstrong & Norah Jones: Foreverly

Sound — 8
This isn't necessarily a project you would have predicted for either Billie Joe Armstrong or Norah Jones - basically we're talking about possibly the most well-known modern punk vocalist and Ravi Shankar's daughter (who is a famous jazz and pop singer-songwriter in her own right). Together they have managed to record the country-tinged album originally recorded by crooners, the Everly Brothers. At the time the Everly Brothers were becoming famous using the type of vocal harmony that would especially be popularized in the '60s, most notably by the Beatles. The decision by Billie Joe and Norah to record the album seems to have originated with Billie Joe Armstrong feeling pulled to the album and listening to it frequently. He chose Norah to collaborate with after they had each sang with Stevie Wonder live, in an unrelated capacity. Doing a side by side comparison between the original album and "Foreverly" will show that it is a fairly accurate re-creation, though the chemistry between the vocalists is different than the original. There are 12 tracks on the album (just as "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us"), and the album clocks in at approximately 45 minutes. The first two singles from "Foreverly" were "Long Time Gone" and "Silver Haired Daddy of Mine." The album is country-tinged rock, and at different points bounces more or less between these two extremes. I don't really know how to go track by track on an album that is such a direct cover of an existing classic album, but I will briefly touch on each track. The album opens up with "Roving Gambler," which is a traditional folk song, and relies fairly heavily on some harmonica work. "Long Time Gone" has a very Johnny Cash type of guitar going on, along with a piano. Of course, the vocal harmonies are the central part of the music and they're ongoing throughout the entire album. "Lightning Express" is a sad traditional folk song, with a lot of lap steel guitar. "Silver Haired Daddy of Mine," interestingly enough, has an almost modern feel to it, even after going back and listening to the Everly Brothers' version. "Down in the Willow Garden" has a cool/creepy feel to it, that would fit along with a creepy rockabilly gothic vibe. "Who's Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet" is definitely the weirdest song on the album, though completely unintentionally, I'm sure. At times the song comes across like it is written about a child and at other times it comes across like a love song. "Oh So Many Years" is more of a traditional country song than most of the rest of the album, with the exception of an instrumental interlude in the middle that definitely has a rock feel to it. "Barbara Allen" shows Billie Joe Armstrong at his most recognizable to my ears, as well as being carried by an acoustic guitar and fiddle. "Rockin' Alone (in an Old Rockin' Chair)" is a sad song that kind of gets to me personally as it reminds me of my grandmother, but it is definitely a finely crafted song and well-performed on this album. "I'm Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail" shows Norah Jones performing some lead vocals and playing the banjo. This was immediately one of my favorite songs from the album, as well. "Kentucky" had an almost early psychedelic feel to it, mixed with maybe a touch of ghost riders in the sky. The album closes out with "Put My Little Shoes Away," which was the only song from the album actually written by the Everly Brothers (or at least partially, as it was actually a modified traditional song).

Lyrics — 8
I'm not really going to be judging the actual lyrics here, as this being an entire album from 1958 re-created by modern musicians the lyrics were out of their control. I do really find it interesting that the songwriting from the time period seems to have lyrics that cut to the root of what the songwriter is trying to say faster than a lot of modern songs. This isn't necessarily commentary on anyone specific, just a general observation between songwriting from half a century ago versus the songwriting of today. Also, not saying that there aren't good songwriters now, but it is more the exception than the rule it was then. As far as the actual vocals go, I was thoroughly impressed by both Billie Joe and Norah Jones. I actually couldn't imagine Billie Joe pulling this off when I first heard about the project, but after hearing the video for "Long Time Gone" I was won over. You can't really identify Billie Joe by his voice, as his signature punk rock sneer isn't evidenced at all, but instead you see a softer side as he provides irresistible harmonies with Norah Jones. Norah has shown through her current solo body of work that she is a capable vocalist and she proved the same on her performance on "Foreverly."

Overall Impression — 8
I was thoroughly impressed with this album, but I worry about the ability of the "general listener" to get behind what they're doing with this album. I think, essentially, this album is almost an indulgence by Billie Joe and Norah that gives you the opportunity to re-examine some music that influenced probably a good portion of modern music either directly or indirectly. I think that letting yourself appreciate older music, at least occasionally, helps keep the idea of "what music is" in perspective. At the end of the day I was fairly impressed with the album. My favorite songs would probably be "Rockin' Alone (in an Old Rockin' Chair)" and "Long Time Gone" and "I'm Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail," but honestly if I'm in the right mood I can listen to this album over and over again from beginning to end. Norah and Billie each provide vocals as well as acoustic and electric guitars - and oddly enough, pump organ. Norah Jones also supplies chimes and 6 string banjo.

24 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Totally unexpected and totally great! I was, even as a long-term GD fan, really suprised how Billie's vocals suited these kinda folky tunes. Nice one.
    "You can't recognise Billie by his voice." Well, you can. Given Green Day's biggest songs in recent years include Boulevard Of Broken Dreams and 21 Guns, he really isn't defined by his punk sneer. He's a very good singer and definitely has a distinctive voice, whatever the style. Brilliant album.
    Say what you want about Billie Joe, but name another 90's pop pinker that would have the balls to record and more importantly, release something like this.
    I'd argue Norah Jones is just as famous as her father for her own work. Introducing her as Ravi's daughter is kind of a disservice.
    I think it's actually quite belittling. I didn't even know the two were related and most regular people would recognise Norah Jones over Ravi Shenkar.
    I was very very pleasantly surprised to hear how great this was. Didn't know Bille Joe was capable of such mellowness after his breakdown a while back and hearing songs like Brain Stew :p He can be very diverse when he wants to be.
    Wow listening to Silver Haired Daddy of Mine and sounds great with the two of them singing!
    Man what a great album. Not really what I was expecting, but it came as a great surprise. This is easily one of my favorite albums of the year
    This is just a prelude to the announcement that Norah Jones is joining Green Day on rhythm guitar and sitar.
    The daughter of Ravi Shanker and Billy Joe Armstrong come together, not he greatest first thought of a collaboration, but it's decent. Its a decent collaboration
    The Judist
    A comment by a guy I know: "Hi I'm a singer songwriter can I have a record deal?" "No." "Hi I'm a singer songwriter can I have a record deal?" "No." "Hi I'm a singer songwriter can I have a record deal?" "No." "Hi I'm a singer songwriter can I have a record deal? My dad is Ravi Shankar." "Sign here."
    Epi g-310
    Except that everyone and their mother is a singer-songwriter. Norah Jones is actually really good. Connections don't hurt, of course, but it's not like she didn't deserve it.
    I think I've about given up on seeing the album review I submitted damn near two weeks ago (not a review of this album, but a different one). Since the email I used to start this account is now defunct, and I don't think I can change which email they reply to, I can't even see if they've rejected it. Not that there was legitimate reason to. They seem to publish less reviews lately. Less and less user reviews. I understand that most user submissions are either fanboy nonsense or riddled with so many errors that it'd take an editor ages to make something out of it, but some of us can actually write decent reviews.
    Message an admim or something. Don't moan on something completely unrelated and take up a huge chunk of the page.
    why do i always read the title as "foreplay" when i see this review - really irritating xD