Release Date: Nov 25, 2013
Record label: Reprise
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Country-Folk, Close Harmony
It may look a tad curious on paper, but the combination of Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and mellow-voiced chanteuse Norah Jones paying tribute to The Everly Brothers is a resounding success. More specifically, the duo has chosen to revisit all 12 songs on the Everlys’ landmark 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, its rootsy country and traditional folk itself a departure from the brothers’ more pop-minded hits. It’s not especially new territory for Jones, who, away from the cool jazz of her solo records, continues to play and record with her part-time country band The Little Willies, but it was Armstrong who instigated this collaboration, having earlier performed with Norah at a Stevie Wonder show.
Norah Jones, a singer who personifies "smokiness", and Green Day bawler Billie Joe Armstrong might ruffle some Americana feathers with this "reinterpretation" of a 1958 Everly Brothers album, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. Let them ruffle. These usurpers harmonise like an alt-country dream – who knew Armstrong could turn his hand to two-part folk-roots vocalising? – and, as a male/female duo, they take the songs to places Phil and Don couldn't.
When I heard that Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong was doing an album of Everly Brothers covers with neo-jazz chanteuse Norah Jones, it incited a, “huh, interesting,” but I wasn’t floored by the idea. Apparently some people were. The idea of Jones singing the songs of Don and Phil Everly sounds perfectly reasonable. And even Armstrong has had brushes with the sort of simple pop the Everlys were known for—“Macy’s Day Parade” and Green Day’s first big hit “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” immediately come to mind.
Entering a long line of artists who've drawn inspiration from the Everly Brothers, Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones serve up a unique tribute with Foreverly. Unlike many others -- including Will Oldham and Dawn McCarthy, who released a trippy Everlys covers album earlier in 2013 -- the duo doesn't dig deep into the brothers' catalog but rather concentrates on a single LP, the 1958 Cadence classic Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. Just a year into their career, the Everlys took the unusual step of abandoning rock & roll for traditional folk and country tunes they learned from their guitarist father Ike.
Tribute albums typically fall into one of two categories: 1) a collection of various artists singing the greatest hits of the honored act or 2) a collection of various artists singing the tracks from a monumental album. Foreverly falls into neither of those as it’s a covers album devoted to a singular release (albeit with the tracklisting slightly rearranged) – 1958’s Songs Our Daddy Taught Us by the Everly Brothers. The traditional “The Roving Gambler,” which was also featured on the Inside Llewyn Davis Soundtrack recently in a more bluegrass form by The Downhill Strugglers with John Cohen, is a less womanizing version of “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone,” following a gambling addict moving from town to town that focuses on the relationship between the gambler, an admiring lady, and her warning mother.
Just when you thought Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong couldn't commit a worse punk heresy than doing a Broadway musical, boo-yah! Here's a set of folk duets with the velvet-voiced Norah Jones. The year's second fine left-field, all-Everly Brothers LP (see Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Dawn McCarthy's What the Brothers Sang) remakes the 1958 Songs Our Daddy Taught Us LP with spot-on harmonies and playful retro arrangements. Tempos get oonched up here ("Barbara Allen"); electricity gets added there ("Long Time Gone").
When the average listener thinks of the Everly Brothers, many thoughts come to mind. One is that if their music was a color, it would be beige. That isn’t meant as an insult. It is intended more to suggest a safe, mellow kind of sound. Certainly what you would expect from folk torch songs. That ….
Swapping his Converse for country, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and noughties Mother’s Day favourite Norah Jones are about as likely a pairing as the singer of Led Zepp and Alison Krauss, but sound mighty fine on this affectionate tribute to the Everly Brothers. As covers albums go ‘Songs Our Daddy Taught Us’ was a clever choice to remake - the original a reworking of old country standards with their trademark harmonies as a tip of the hat to their country roots. In context this was done off the back of hit singles such as ‘Bye-Bye Love’ and ‘Wake Up Little Susie’, and is almost as obscure in modern day record collections as the mere thought of there being chemistry between Billie Joe and Norah.
In 1958, the Everly Brothers released Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, a collection of rootsy ballads and country numbers. Half a century on, Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong has teamed up with Norah Jones to craft a largely faithful rerecording of the album. While hardly a move into brave new musical pastures, it's not without charm and the use of a female voice puts just enough distance between this and the original, the entwining harmonies recalling Gram Parsons's duets with Emmylou Harris.
Show of hands if the first time you heard Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice — emanating from a battered copy of Dookie in junior high, say — you fantasized about his taking on early 20th-century country traditionals. No one? Well, maybe Norah Jones, the jazz-folk sensation Baby Boomers love to love, with a noted history of taming everyone from Dave Grohl to Andre 3000, saw this one coming. The two bonded during a performance with Stevie Wonder, the story goes, and so, on his wife’s suggestion, Armstrong recruited the talented Jones to lend her voice to a full-album rendition of his favorite Everly Brothers recording, 1958’s oft-forgotten Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.
With Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong has achieved the rarified kind of success where the music industry will now indulge whatever pet project he puts his mind to. A Broadway musical based on one of his albums that will soon become a Hollywood movie? Done. How about releasing three albums in four months? Not a problem. Few could have anticipated the existence of this project, though: a track-by-track recreation of the Everly Brothers' 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us with pop-jazz chanteuse Norah Jones providing the harmony vocals.
opinion byMATTHEW M.F. MILLER Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong don’t share the musical kinship of two artists you’d throw into the same playlist, and even in this mono-genre world in which we listen, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival that would put them on the same stage performing back-to-back sets. So the fact that the most popular indie jazz/pop musician maybe ever and the lead singer of Green Day recorded an album together – a country one at that - it is an anomaly of epic proportions.
Close your eyes and imagine what a tribute to the Everly Brothers featuring Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day would sound like. "Foreverly," Jones' and Armstrong's ode to the brothers' work, sounds identical to the renditions of the imagination: clean, honest, simple in a beautiful way and, if you wear the cynic's cap, pointless. As such, it's one of the most rebellious things each has done.
That Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day frontman, would team up with Norah Jones, Ravi Shankar’s softly crooning daughter, to re-record an Everly Brothers record originally released in 1958—well, it seems like a bit of a stretch. Immediately, a series of questions arise, but it turns out the answers are pretty simple. For instance: How do the two know each other? (From working with Stevie Wonder.
The Green Day frontman and the honey-voiced chanteuse may seem like an odd couple, but they make a perfect pair on this homey little homage to Phil and Don Everly and, in somewhat meta fashion, that influential duo’s own tribute to roots music, 1958’s covers album “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. ” A mix of classic pop, country, and folk, this lovingly dusty track-for-track remake — the third such Everly Brothers tribute this year, following albums from the Chapin Sisters and the duo of Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Dawn Mc-Carthy — continues to underscore the timelessness of the siblings’ close harmony sound. Armstrong — playing it straight and in a tender mood — and Jones intertwine beautifully on the microphone, forging their own harmonious path and injecting the proceedings with a male-female charge, obviously not present in the originals.