Billie Joe + Norah
When The Everly Brothers released Songs Our Daddy Taught Us in 1958, it was a surprise: the simple versions of classic American folk songs couldn’t have been more different to rock’n’roll hits such as Wake Up Little Susie. So the notion of the Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong and the sultry jazz songstress Norah Jones collaborating on a reprise of the record is not so shocking. Despite eschewing the original’s stripped-back style – just Phil and Don Everly and a guitar – for lusher arrangements with Duane Eddy-style twanging, brushed drums and the odd fiddle, it works. The additions of a more upbeat tempo and some country-and-western slide guitar offer a hint of saccharine at times, but the instrumentation is, for the most part, sensitive, restrained, and even, in the mouth organ in Roving Gambler, an improvement on The Everly Brothers’ version. Throughout, Jones offers a punchy, nuanced replacement for Phil Everly’s tenor and while Armstrong’s voice is no more subtle than in his work with Green Day, the defiantly straightforward delivery chimes well with the naivety of these country tunes.
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