Prior to hearing this album,
I was not familiar with the music of Shooter Jennings, but I knew his dad, Waylon, and Waylon’s friends Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. I also knew hillbilly rock (I am from Central Illinois, after all). I have a strange, almost sick love for the twang in a Southern rocker’s voice, for strong guitars and songs about frogs named Martin Luther and Jesus riding shotgun.
On his sophomore effort, Electric Rodeo, Jennings will win you over with his unexpectedly deep voice and strong, vibrant guitars. The title track that opens the album is nothing special, as it sounds like any other Southern rock song, but it expertly adds a banjo to the mix in one moment and a tambourine in the next.
The song “Bad Magick” begins with some trippy wind effects and an equalizer-laced single guitar. Jennings’ voice perfectly mingles with the music and a second guitar. The rest of the song isn’t anything special, featuring the same melody and beat as countless other Southern rock songs. The lyrics are barely audible under the dual guitars and heavy drums.
“Manifesto No. 2” begins with fiddles. As it should be, it’s about a drunk who gets locked up and the woman who loves him anyway.
Of course, every rocker must have his ballad. Electric Rodeo’s ballad is “Aviators,” almost an homage to Everlast’s “The Letter.” Jennings starts the song by speaking, rather than singing, to his lost love about their fights at the Waffle House. True to his roots, Jennings keeps it country. The silly white trash lyrics made me smile and made me think that this song should be played on NBC’s My Name is Earl.
Best lyrics ever: “And I’m sorry ’bout that time I got drunk and hit on your mom and slashed your daddy’s tires, but I figure they had it comin’.” My favorite Southern rock is the kind that makes you fall over laughing.
The album ends with “It Ain’t Easy,” a personal song about being the son of a country music legend, a second-generation rocker. The token female background singers flank his strong voice as Jennings thanks (presumably) his daddy and says he’ll be fine.
Electric Rodeo is a fun time and offers good music to get drunk to.
Kick back and enjoy this album, y’all.
Look for Shooter Jennings when he comes to the Highdive on June 22.