Bille Joe & Norah 'Foreverly' - Reprise

This, and the original album from the Everly Brothers (Songs Our Daddy taught Us), could be said to be labours of love. Released on Cadence Records in 1958,  the original Everly’s album was exactly what the title said;  a selection of stripped-down songs that Don and Phil’s father Ike loved. The songs included many which had roots in a much earlier time like Roving Gambler which dates back to the time of Henry VIII. Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine is a Gene Autry co-write that dates back to the 1930s and while Who's Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet was a traditional song adapted  by Don and Phil it sits easily alongside the other songs.

Regardless of the source, the album was one of the most overlooked in the Everly’s catalogue. This song for song tribute will, one hopes, cause some to seek out the original, but, if not, this still is a fine, relaxed album that is more than just a fitting tribute. It will also help fans of both artists to see that they are well capable of performing outside of their normal settings. Norah Jones is known as a jazz artist in the main, though she has played roots material in her off shoot Little Willies project and occasionally on her own albums. The involvement of Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong may surprise some but he is perfectly at home in this largely acoustic setting. Funnily enough when speaking to a punk  a while back, he said that backstage he and his contemporaries more often that not played Hank Williams' songs or material such as this; songs they all knew from growing up.

The outstanding thing is way the two voices blend together to make a perfect job of the sibling-style harmonies. Some duets combine the rough with the smooth but here it all takes the smooth path. They have added some subtle but highly effective instrumental additions such as pump organ, electric guitar, piano, pedal steel, mandolin, drums and banjo into the mix, compared to the original's sparse acoustic guitar and upright bass instrumentation. This is done  with a subtlety and sensibility that never distracts from the songs. There is no production credit listed but you can take it the duo themselves steered the project.

Whether this is a one off project, or if they will make further explorations remains to be seen, but Foreverly is a complete success and a very enjoyable listen With Phil Everly’s recent death the world could do with a little more of this kind of  music. It sits alongside Paul Burch's Buddy Holly Words of Love album as a reminder of acts who made lasting music but who may not get the attention they deserve in this day and age. It often takes a project like this to bring attention to those artists while being a valid statement in its own right. I would also venture to suggest that this may well cause more fans of both artists to look more into the music's past than at any of the current crop of "country" artists.