Bille Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones just released Foreverly, an homage to 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us by country pioneers Everly Brothers. This magical cover album, appropriately recorded at Magic Shop NYC, will treat Puss n’ Boots fans itching to experience Norah’s country-croonin’ side. Billie Joe transcends his punk persona to deliver a strong, soulful vocal performance never heard before on any Green Day albums. Case in point: “Barbara Allen.”
What makes the album great is not only their individual contributions, but also their chemistry. I remember observing a recording session, when Norah finished a take and radioed to the producer: “Can I do one more take?” Poking fun at her perfectionism, Billy Joe responded, “Why?!” The artists’ attention to detail extended beyond the technical; for inspiration, a portrait of Don and Phil Everly hung in the studio, smiling warmly at the whole band. The album takes the listener on a journey through poignant breakups (“Long Time Gone,”) and intimacy (“Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet?”)
The second to last song “Kentucky” exemplifies those warm vibes Norah and Billie Joe emoted making this album. As Billie Joe describes in the commentary available on Spotify, the arrangement departs from the original straight-forward country feel and sounds more like a “Latin beat,” from “Kentucky, Venezuela,” he jokes. My favorite part occurs at 1:57, when Norah takes a spacey vocal solo colored by fluttery pianos and slide guitars.
If any album’s worth buying this Christmas for repeat listens, this is the one. For a great interview, and to make sense of this unexpected musical formula (Norah Jones + Billie Joe = OMG), check out this great interview & story on NPR.