Billie Joe & Norah – they couldn’t sound more like an old fashioned country and western duo if they tried. Yet add in their surnames (Armstrong and Jones respectively) and it becomes clear that all isn’t quite what it seems. Yes, Foreverly is a ‘side project’ and comes with all the potential problems associated with such a move. Take in consideration the Green Day frontman’s very public issues of late, you hardly venture forth with the highest of hopes.
What you get are no alarms but one key surprise. Foreverly is a song by song reworking of the Everley Brothers’ 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, a record that saw Phil and Don step away from the rock ‘n’ roll that had made them stars of the day and delve into the world of traditional music. You can see parallels with Armstrong, although for Jones this is a much more natural move. Both sound comfortable with the material, maybe a little too comfortable for their own good. Whereas the original record still fizzes with an innocence of a sense of excitement of what’s to come, the 2013 version plods along. Jones is a lovely presence, especially on ‘I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail’ but too often she finds herself overshadowed by her musical partner who – while benefitting from the more subdued surroundings – still lacks the required lightness of touch.
It all comes together just once, on the drop dead gorgeous ‘Put My Little Shoes Away’. Sadly, it also happens to be the final track on the album and by then your attention has wandered too many times. Yet perhaps the listening experience wasn’t top of the list of priorities, instead providing Armstrong with a chance to cleanse his musical palette after the grand folly of Uno, Dos, Tre and Jones a breather following her superb but dark Little Broken Hearts. You hope it worked for them but there’s little to concern the rest of us here.