Waylon Forever is as soulful and emotional as the best of his later work.
Daryl Easlea 2009-04-17
It is hard to believe that the best part of a decade has passed since Waylon Jennings left us. This posthumous release of originals and covers curated by his son, Shooter, is a fitting tribute to the man who many viewed as the ultimate outlaw.
Work on the album began in the late 90s when Jennings asked his son to collaborate with him. 12 years in the making, Waylon Forever, while not as powerful as fellow traveller Johnny Cash's work with Rick Rubin, still provides a worthy full stop to his illustrious career.
There's great punkabilly on Rodney Crowell's Ain’t Livin' Long Like This, a poignant revisit of his Neil Young cover, Are You Ready For The Country and a fairly straight take on White Room by Cream. It serves to emphasise how Jennings refused to be contained by genre pigeonholes.
It's another revisit that storms the show, his 1973 hit, Lonsome On'ry And Mean. It's an all-guns-blazing update of the Steve Young tune; the man in his 60s here carries extra sorrow and gravitas than the man in his 30s who recorded the original. The 357s provide full-on, exuberant backing throughout.
Shooter Jennings' arrangements on the album's showstoppers, I Found The Body and Outlaw Shit will split the audience. They owe more to straight-ahead rock and Bob Ezrin and Michael Kamen's orchestrations on Pink Floyd's The Wall than anything from Nashville. And to these ears, that is no bad thing.
Waylon Forever is as soulful and emotional as the best of his later work, with a few surprises along the way.