Billie Joe & Norah
April 10, 2014 | by Texas Music Magazine
Review: Billie Joe & Norah – Foreverly

Beautiful harmonies, spare arrangements, weathered melodies, blood-chilling lyrics — an album like no other, as pure in sound and execution as it is emotionally complex.

Billie Joe & Norah - ForeverlyThat such a description could equally fit the Everly Brothers’ Songs Our Daddy Taught Us — a 1958 collection of traditional material steeped in mortality — and this unlikely remake by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and the loverly Norah Jones suggests not only what the new duo has accomplished but also the opportunities missed. For other than introducing new listeners to a masterpiece they were too young to hear and adding a rhythm section, there’s little purpose for such a faithful recreation except to show you can do it. Why not interpret it, reinvent it? There are all sorts of possibilities in recasting this material for a man and woman rather than two brothers. Especially since Don and Phil are such distinctive singers with such specific roles — the former sang lead on all the duo’s hits; the latter is likely the greatest harmony singer in rock’s history — and these are roles that Norah (as Phil) and Billie Joe (as Don) do a surprisingly faithful job in fulfilling, at the risk of minimizing the defining  characteristics of their own artistry. The vocal blend plays to Norah’s strengths without necessarily enhancing them, while Green Day fans might have trouble recognizing Billie Joe, whose usual edge could have made the results sound more like renewal than revival. Still, those who are encountering this body of material (poisoned, bloody, dead or dying) for the first time are in for a revelation. And left with a question: How could the Everly daddy use the family singalong to introduce his young sons to such a world of sadness, a veil of tears? — DON MCLEESE

Originally published in Winter 2014, Issue 57.
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