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Album Review: Billie-Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones – Foreverly

3 min read

There is something more than a little surprisingly upon first seeing these two names on paper. In the red corner – Billie-Joe Armstrong, infamous, pint-sized frontman of pop-punk megagroup Green Day – and in the blue corner – Norah Jones, sultry voiced songstress jazz piano major; no matter which angle the premise is considered, it seems near impossible to conjure an outcome where the two sides compliment each other. It is, therefore, all the more surprising when it does, and manages to do it well.

BillieJoeArmstrongNorahJonesForeverlyPerhaps the reason that this collaboration succeeds is due to the content being of a genre that neither artist is totally associated with, or indeed the fact that the songs that they are performing are not their own. Once you realise that Armstrong and Jones are, in fact, singing a collection of songs by poignant American country rock’n’rollers The Everly Brothers, the pun in ForEVERLY becomes more than apparent, for the album is a reinterpretation of The Everly Brother’s classic 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. This far removed nature of the collaboration works in its favour; gone is Armstrong’s brash, provocative performance, whilst Jones’ voice lends itself well to the delivery of other people’s tales. If you were to hear the album without being made aware of the identities of the singers, it is unlikely that you would be able to guess, for together Armstrong and Jones create a delectable team.

Upon first listen, it is almost startling how well the voices of Armstrong and Jones unexpectedly harmonise. Album opener Roving Gambler has the pair matching word for word, emphasising the contrast between Armstrong’s moderately gruff whine against Jones’ more dulcet tones, whilst the solemn Lightning Express shows a softer side to the partnership. Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine is, of course, a standout track, the plodding bassline adding to what can only be described as a resolutely all-American body of work, whilst the solitary lamentations of Armstrong in the verses of Barbara Allen prove not to sound too out of place in the realms of country. Likewise, Jones’ voice is intoxicating in her solitary performance in I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail – however, none tugs at the heartstrings more than Rockin’ Alone (In An Old Rockin’ Chair), a tale of a lonely old woman which is a testament to country music.

Whilst Foreverly is no doubt lovingly crafted, after a while, the tempos of the songs begin to intertwine and blend in a manner that – unfortunately – results in many of them feeling a little forgettable. These are old songs that carry an essence of nostalgia and the weight of reminiscence, and whilst this is all very well and good, it is unlikely it will translate well to a contemporary audience unless they were already searching for such material. However, this is almost inconsequential as commercial performance was hardly the intention here, with Armstrong previously implying that this was a project concocted for pleasure and personal satisfaction, and whilst it may wander in places, no one can doubt that Foreverly carries an affable charm that makes it worth investigating.

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