Shooter Jennings, “Shooter”

Shooter Jennings
Shooter
LOW COUNTRY SOUND/ELEKTRA
6/10

Shooter Jennings has never let convention or the commonplace slow his roll or stand in the way of a great notion. This son of country queen Jessi Colter and outlaw king Waylon Jennings has crafted darkly theatrical song cycles (with Stephen King, no less) and opulent rhythmic tributes to electro-disco avatar Giorgio Moroder with Countach (For Giorgio). At no time did Shooter make such audacious moves toward such diverse sonic profiles look obvious or blatant as he did with the latter. He likes sci-fi opera and arpeggio-heavy, syncopated disco, so he made it. Jennings isn’t about letting tags define him or stand in his way.

Using that same theorem, his latest full-length, Shooter—a starkly recorded album of stripped-to-the-marrow country tunes made with Dave Cobb, who produced Jennings’ first four albums—shouldn’t be viewed as too weird. Then again, Jennings hasn’t done straight country like this since 2005, so new dramatic barnstormers such as “Fast Horses & Good Hideouts” and the frenetic “I’m Wild & My Woman Is Crazy” seem to be something of an oddity—a weary detour from an already rickety road.

Once you settle in, however, and re-listen to the fickle fruits of Shooter several times—and you will—the everyday souls, the curt circumstance, and the usual suspects of country’s tale-telling tropes start coming out of the woodwork like an old ghost familiar to the family. In particular, the old school C&W likes of “Rhinestone Eyes” and “Denim & Diamonds” no doubt has made mom proud—and pays proper tribute to his late, great dad. 

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