That Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day frontman, would team up with Norah Jones, Ravi Shankar’s softly crooning daughter, to re-record an Everly Brothers record originally released in 1958—well, it seems like a bit of a stretch. Immediately, a series of questions arise, but it turns out the answers are pretty simple. For instance: How do the two know each other? (From working with Stevie Wonder.) Isn’t Armstrong, like, punk? (Not really.) And, just, why? (Armstrong liked the record a lot and got a bee in his bonnet about re-making it.)
Get past the seemingly outlandish premise, and the result—Foreverly, a loving re-creation of The Everly Brothers’ 1958 tribute to traditional folk songs, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us—is actually pretty solid. Tracked and mixed in just nine days, the record is a tight throwback to the era of simple harmonies and instrumentation. Armstrong and Jones soar through standards like “Long Time Gone,” a track first made famous by Tex Ritter, and “Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet?” The duo’s harmonies fit perfectly together, with neither artist shining brighter than the other. Some songs, like opener “Roving Gambler,” even make ideal use of the duet format, with the two acting as chiding parents begging their daughter not to leave and take up with the aforementioned gambler. Other tracks, like “Lightning Express,” highlight lyrics over harmonies by virtue of some simple arrangements featuring plaintive pedal-steel guitar.
The record does lag a bit toward the end, mostly due to the tracks’ similar tempos. While the LP isn’t overly long at 12 songs, each cut plods a little bit—though had Armstrong and Jones attempted to speed them up, the results probably would have been disastrous and done a disservice to the original Everly Brothers’ record. As it is, Foreverly is a smart, lovely tribute LP. It might seem initially unlikely that Armstrong and Jones have as much rootsy connection to the music (and to the state of Kentucky) that Don and Phil Everly do, yet after listening to Foreverly, it’s not hard to believe that maybe somewhere deep down they could.