Record review: Billie Joe + Norah – Foreverly (2013 LP)

Wow. I mean holy crap. I mean huh? Take a quick look at the basic ingredients of this album and something doesn’t seem to add up from the off. A somewhat off-colour-of-late pop-punk legend teams up with a jazz-pop Grammy-magnet to record an album of lesser-known Everly Brothers tunes; surely this has got to be a total stinker? Not even close; this unlikeliest of albums works a treat and the most amazing thing here is that it’s Green Day frontman Armstrong’s vocal performance that makes it work. The execution of the rootsy ballads and country numbers from 1958’s Songs Our Daddy Taught Us isn’t as major a departure for Norah Jones as it is for the perennial punk brat, and it’s hard to connect the smooth and intimate vocals Armstrong displays here with the same voice that sang songs about going blind from too much masturbation on 1994’s ‘Longview’. “I am a roving gambler, I’ve gambled all around, whenever I meet with a deck of cards, I lay my money down,” they sing in perfect unison on opener ‘Roving Gambler’, and I’ll be damned if they don’t make it sound entirely believable, and not unlike a latter day Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris number. While Armstrong is a revelation throughout, Jones is an understated triumph, and apparently masterminded the intimate feel by making Armstrong sing facing her so they could synchronise their vocals perfectly. While it’s more likely to appeal to Norah Jones fans than the average punk bonehead, there’s something more than decent going on here that’s well worth checking out. (Reprise)

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