Lately, many of us have been re-listening to the Everly Brothers’ timeless catalog in remembrance of Phil Everly, who passed away last Friday.
Although the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers’ music wasn’t in my regular playlists, a lot of hit song lyrics by the siblings and their frequent co-writers The Bryants, were still emblazoned in my brain.
Back in November, Green Day leader Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones put out a sublime Everlys tribute album, Foreverly on Reprise Records. The dozen traditional Americana tracks were inspired by The Everlys’ 1958 acoustic release, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.
Armstrong first discovered the LP a couple years ago, decided to recast it with a female duet partner and cold called Jones. A multi-faceted musician, she is no stranger to what we now call alt-country, having done two albums with her side band Little Willies. Their voices gel perfectly here. Most of the time the harmonizing is done together, but occasionally one will take the lead before the other seamlessly chimes in.
Backed by fiddler Charlie Burnham, pedal steel guitarist Johnny Lam, drummer Dan Rieser, bassist Tim Luntzel, Armstrong and Jones both played acoustic/electric guitar and piano. There are also well-placed pump organ, banjo, chimes, mandolin and harmonica accents. Classic Sun Records songs would be apt comparisons or for a more modern example, She & Him.
Among the standouts are the sparse, Jones-led “I’m Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail,” haunting murder ballad "Down In The Willow Garden," the yearning “Lightning Express,” reverb-drenched "Long Time Gone" (with sprightly piano) and fine harp/stunning vocal blend in “Roving Gambler.” Elsewhere, are notable compositions from Gene Autry and Tex Ritter.
The whole project was recorded in a little over a week.