Music Review: Armstrong, Jones make it sweet and slow with ‘Foreverly’ duet

Norah Jones’ voice has never had enough bite and Billie Joe Armstrong hasn’t written a good song since 2009, if I’m being generous. And despite the fact that I like many rock ‘n’ roll greats – Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis – The Everly Brothers have never done it for me. Their songs are usually too slow and I just don’t get it.

So, why in hell would I even listen to Jones and Armstrong’s new song-for-song cover of The Everly Brothers’ “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us”? Because it was so out-of-left-field that I was curious how it would sound.

Well, I’m glad I gave the album a chance because it’s a pretty good listen. Armstrong’s nasally voice shows surprising depth and counters Jones’ robotic drone (sorry, still not a fan) nicely.

Plus, the traditional folk songs are outstanding. I’m usually a sucker for tunes like this – The Kossoy Sisters’ “Bowling Green” is one of my favorite albums ever and even shares a song with “Foreverly,” the downright creepy, murderous-but-lovely “Down in the Willow Garden.” The ol’ fashioned ditty features lyrics like “I drew my saber through her/ It was a bloody knife/ I threw her into the river/ It was an awful sight…” Sweet, ain’t it? But don’t most traditional folk tunes have something eerie about them? I mean, “Ring Around the Rosie” is about the Black Death, after all. The fact that these ditties that emerged from our collective consciousness operate on two levels, beautiful and horrifying, is what makes them sublime.

Armstrong and Jones stay almost entirely faithful to the Everylys renditions, which is nice, but the album could have really taken off with some more variety (I would kill for some more speed!). The songs that have a little bounce, “Roving Gambler” and “Silver Haired Daddy of Mine,” are more successful than some of the slow-as-molasses stuff. By the time you get to “Put My Little Shoes Away,” if you’re still awake, you should win a signed copy of “Dookie,” or “Come Away with Me” at least.

But the album definitely serves its purpose – to treat the material with reverence and to get more younger folks excited about good music. Hopefully many Armstrong and Jones fans will end up scouring YouTube for Everly Brothers performances like I’ve been the last few days. And, at the very least, it’s a nice album for different generations to enjoy together over the holidays.

2 1/2 stars out of 4.

DOWNLOAD NOW: “Roving Gambler.”