Billie Joe (of Green Day) and Norah Jones won’t make you forget the Everly Brothers with “Foreverly.” Rather, they’ll make you remember those two amazing singing siblings. But that’s probably the whole point. These aren’t two singers out to prove they can harmonize better than Phil and Don. They know they can’t. Instead, they both decided to lovingly put a spotlight on the best brotherly singing duo of all time, and they’ve nail it.
Going in, we already knew Norah Jones could sing amazingly well. She shows us just how it’s done with “I’m Just Here to Get My Baby out of Jail,” where she takes a solo turn, and on “Kentucky,” a recording that asks her to provide a June Carter Cash-like wordless backing vocal. The surprise is Billie Joe Armstrong’s singing. He doesn’t get all snotty, the way he always seems to do with Green Day. But then again, he’s not singing about politics or juvenile delinquency, as he sometimes did while fronting his day job trio.
The other surprise is the song selection for this 12-track release, which completely sidesteps all the big hits, opting for relative obscurities, instead. There’s “Down in the Willow Garden,” a pedal steel-colored murder ballad, as well as a bevy of traditional songs, such as “Roving Gambler” and “Barbara Allen.” We’ve heard Jones sing country with the The Little Willies, but it’s a treat to hear Armstrong sing “Silver Haired Daddy of Mine,” on which singing cowboy Gene Autry has a writing credit.
It’s also heartening to experience Armstrong expressing tenderness, which is not something he’s usually called upon to do with his pop-punk outfit. Yet here he is in the shoes of a boy riding a train during “Lightning Express,” on his way (hopefully) to see his mother one last time before she dies. The song is sung in slow, waltz time, and makes it all sound like the longest and worst train trip ever.
This song-set does not just drive one to once again experience the original Everly Brothers musical genius, but also leads to curiosity over the pair’s back catalogue. After listening to these great (mostly) non-hits, how many other hidden gems are in the vault? Ah, but before you head to said vault, breathe in the shear aural pleasure of Billie Joe and Norah honoring the Everly Brothers so beautifully.