New release (eOne)
Country music loves its outlaws, and Shooter Jennings fits the mold even more handily than his dad did — After all Waylon never made an art-rock concept album, as Shooter did with last year’s Black Ribbons. Family Man jumps back into country, but that’s about it for categorization: On one hand, the single “The Deed & the Dollar” is as warm-hearted (and as commercial) a ballad as any coming out of Nashville. On the other, “Southern Family Anthem” recalls Lynyrd Skynyrd at its rabble-rousing best (You can practically see the lighters being raised during the chorus of “We may be trash, but we’re a family”). Meanwhile, “The Long Road Ahead” (with guitar by Tom Morello), is moody and melodic enough to suggest early Wilco. This is meant to be Jennings’ most personal album, which means he talks a lot (both soberly/seriously and otherwise) about family ties; it also means that the ambitious tale “The Black Dog” is the one track that doesn’t really fit in. So the disc is partly about personal history, but mostly about a songwriter cutting loose.
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