Our opinion of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong changed after watching the documentary that came with the re-issue of Tres! just before Christmas. He might be a tattooed punk with an addiction problem but he came over as a talented and hard-working musician.
Plenty of musicians do projects away from their day jobs and this one sees Billie Joe teaming up with easy listening’s Norah Jones to recreate an Everly Brothers’ album. Not even an album of originals, but Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, with Armstrong taking Don Everly’s lead vocals and Jones covering Phil (who just died).
It’s a loving tribute too; the old country standards are treating with respect and the two singers’ voices go well together. Billie Joe’s cool means you overlook what the songs are, which is the epitome of “my woman gone left me / my dawg up and died / my car broke down / my ma went n died” lachrymose country. Murder, tears and laments all feature, our favourite being the boy on a train begging his fare so he can go back and see his dying ma.
But then again, Billy Joe’s biggest song is about a boy off to war and missing his girl back home, so take away the tattoos and electric guitar and you’re in the same territory.
We’d guess this will be a one-off: we can’t see it having the legs of Robert Plant’s venture in country, not least because Planty can play relatively small venues while BJ is still a big star.
We’re not sure how diehard Green Day fans will take it, but if you like country/crooning/cool pop, it’s surprisingly good.