Mar
13

Album Review – Shooter Jennings “Family Man”

March 13, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  87 Comments

So here comes a new album from Shooter Jennings called Family Man, his highly anticipated, slightly-delayed return to his country roots after a foray into the industrial side of music with his last offering, Black Ribbons. Though Shooter’s sonic style may not always be predictable, I’ve found his last few albums to be that very thing in the respect that they will have their moments of greatness, balanced by moments of sheer weirdness and ill-advised content, and when you’re done you’re left with a mixed bag.

Family Man starts off very country, and very good with the song “The Real Me”. A very fun structure and wording, this song allows Shooter to show off his use of dynamics. The second song “The Long Road Ahead” is a good one too, and may be the “hit” of the album, though it is retarded significantly by an out-of-place guitar wank by former Rage Against The Machine axe man Tom Morello lunging at you unexpectedly like a crazy ex-girlfriend wielding rusty scissors.

The guitar solo would work in the context of Zach de la Rocha of Rage whipping his dreads around like a cat & 9 tails and screaming about “taking the power back”, but in a country song, this wild-assed accoutrement goes over like a fart in church. Then again, “The Long Road Ahead” really isn’t a country song. It has a pop rock heart, and the first two offerings on Family Man set you off on a stylistic wonkiness and lack of direction that besets this album from stem to stern.

As I said in my song review of “The Deed & The Dollar”, it is just okay, and I’d lump “The Family Tree” and “Born Again” in this same category. Like Kevin from the TV show The Office, these songs are remarkably unremarkable.

At the fourth slot on the album, “Manifesto No. 4″, Shooter shines doing what I’ve always felt fits Shooter best: not rock, not country, but Southern-fried soul. This song is one of Family Man’s standouts.

“Summer Dreams” and its similarities to so many John Denver “gee get me out of the city, I’m a country boy” songs make it feel eepish, and this leads into what I fear is an outright mistake on the album, “Southern Family Anthem”. When this song was originally released somewhat quietly on a compilation, I received more emails and requests for my opinion than ever before from irate listeners. My ruling was it was unfair to judge this song without the context of the Family Man concept. Well now we not only have the picture, we have the frame, and I’m sorry to say that “Southern Family Anthem” possibly comes across as even worse and more offensive and confusing than it did autonomously.

Is Shooter trying to offend Southern people in this song? I would vehemently say no, but I can’t say that from the content of the song itself, only from the back story and Shooter’s insistence. Shooter swears the song is all “true” and don’t think for a second I don’t believe him, but it is silly to think that songs can come with lengthy explanations of back stories to coincide with a listener’s initial reactions. This song isn’t just dark, it is disturbing, and not in a good way. And it is done even one shade worse by a horrifically-predictable chorus.

How in the world could a song like this, that is so ripe for misunderstanding, and that could (and in some cases has) boiled over to outright anger make it on this album and an excellent song like “Outlaw You” not?  Is it worth it? Shooter Jennings is given credit as the producer on the album, and I’m all for artists calling their own shots, but someone needed to talk some sense into the man. He didn’t necessarily need a producer, maybe just a friend to say, “Dude!”

“Cause momma’s on crank, daddy’s got Hep C. Yeah we all die together we’re a family,” is the line that seems to hold elements of ultra-harsh stereotyping and judgement that just doesn’t need to be on this album or any other, regardless if it was intended. It would seem out-of-place even from some angry, hardcore country metal slasher band.

The madness of “Southern Family Anthem” dumps you into “Daddy’s Hands,” the best song on the album from a songwriting perspective. Sincere, impactful, and honest, this is where the Family Man concept comes to fruition and feels right in mood and spirit. This sweet soliloquy to Shooter’s father has the ability to send deep chills through men from its use of memory, and Mickey Raphael’s harp magic takes it over the top.

The last song to mention is “The Black Dog”, and utterly confusing, lengthy, coal mine tragedy song that meanders absolutely nowhere, droning and virtually senseless. Is this a harsh take? Probably, but it is also true from this bear’s perspective. At least “Southern Family Anthem” keeps you engaged, waiting for the next shocking turn of offensive language. “The Black Dog” is just painful.

In the end I’m just surprised at the sheer lack of direction with this album. I guess there’s a “Family Man” concept here, but it almost seems a burden to the music instead of a compliment. I really expected great things from this album. I thought Shooter would come out hungry, fighting for redemption from the mainstream country crowd, looking to prove his critic’s wrong. This album really isn’t that country though, any more than it is anything else. It seems to want to be country, with it’s easily-identifiable but sonically shallow Waylon beats at times, but it seems to be striving for mainstream sensibility and acceptance as well.

There’s a very “one foot in” feeling to it–no purpose–flat vocals ferried by excessive reverb from someone who can be a very soulful singer. And no binding agent to hold these songs together in any meaningful anatomy.

However I would be lying if I said Family Man didn’t have any moments. And yes, Shooter is a nice guy, but that is not a sonic element you can measure in music. What this album may have needed more than anything else was honesty of perspective. Removing two songs and Tom Morello’s solo would have dramatically improved Family Man‘s destiny. Instead, they will distract people from the positive elements.

One gun up for Mickey Raphael’s harmonica, Keith Neltner’s art design and concept, for “The Real Me,” “Manifesto No.4,” “Daddy’s Hands, and “The Long Road Ahead” sans Tom Morello.

One gun down for all the rest.

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87 Comments to “Album Review – Shooter Jennings “Family Man””

  • I have yet to listen to it and I hope I enjoy it more than you did. With that said even if it is a mixed bag you can buy it on Amazon right now for 4 bucks. Definitely worth it even if only half the album is solid.

       1 likes

  • Though I disagree with the assessment, I always enjoy reading your reviews!

       1 likes

  • You sure we listened to the same album? I thought the whole album was good. Haven’t picked a favorite song yet, but “The Family Tree” is an early favorite.

       4 likes

  • This comment was found to be made by an impersonator, more info here: http://www.forum.savingcountrymusic.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1593 HE IS JUST BIAS ,,,, HE WOULDNT GIVE SHOOTER A GOOD REVIEW IF IT WAS THE SECOND COMING OF STRAIGHT TO HELL…….FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON HES NOT A FAN OF WAYLONS BOY.

       1 likes

    • http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/shooter-jennings-fires-big-shot-with-outlaw-you

      ““Outlaw You” is a remarkable composition, and an instant Song of the Year candidate….Two guns way up!”

      http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/review-shooter-jennings-black-ribbons-live

      “I can truly say his live performance was top notch. Grade it an A.

         0 likes

      • Well written review. I’m not sure I agree, but not everyone likes the same things. I can’t say whether it is bias or not. Not covering it at all would probably be more bias because it is a big album for a lot of people that frequent this site. I mean I couldn’t stand the Pickler album (the album received two guns up from Trigger) because I though it was terrible…that doesn’t make me bias that’s just my opinion. Now I haven’t had any troubles with Pickler or haven’t had any interaction with her so I have no connection other than the music (XXX and Shooter related stuff have been a big hot button issue around here)…but opinions are opinions and not everyone has to like everything from the genre.

        I will say though that you used this quote to show Bandana that you aren’t bias:

        ““Outlaw You” is a remarkable composition, and an instant Song of the Year candidate….Two guns way up!”

        But the quote is not true because “Outlaw You” was not a candidate for 2011 Song Of The Year on this site. Instant candidate means it would have appeared on the list, well, instantly and it just isn’t there. I don’t even see it refrenced in the article as even a possible candidate.

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        • The reason “Outlaw You” was not included in the Song of the Year for 2011 was because I was under the impression it was going to be released as part of “Family Man” (and it should have been in my opinion), and that would have made it a 2012 song. In hind sight, yes, it should have been included in that list if it was not going to be on this album, but I couldn’t have forseen his best song being omitted from the album, because really, leaving “Outlaw You” out might have be the worst decision on “Family Man”, though my feeling is Shooter had little to do with it.

          “I can’t say whether it is bias or not. Not covering it at all would probably be more bias because it is a big album for a lot of people that frequent this site.

          No matter what I do, someone will criticize it, so instead I just do what I always do: be honest about my opinions regardless of the ramifications. Folks can go on Facebook a front all their theories, but like the opinion that I would “never” write a positive review for Shooter, they never hold water.

          I know, I make a good boogey man, but it won’t keep me from being honest.

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          • Ive read that Shooter was going to put out one 20+ song CD, but decided to split the songs and have 2 releases. Outlaw You will probably be included on the next CD that is slated for late 2012. If it is will see if you still feel the same about Outlaw You.

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          • “Outlaw You” will not be on the other life. It’s a stand-alone single as was Shooter’s intention from the beginning.

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          • Shooter told me he wanted the song on the album, that he went to battle with the original label that was going to put “Family Man” out and they refused because they didn’t want to ruffle feathers. With the references to his father, it certainly works in the “Family Man” concept, and better than some of the other songs that did make it.

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  • So the same guy who’s asking if Kellie Pickler’s “100 Proof” is the best mainstream album in years hates this one? You confuse me sometimes.To each their own.I think it’s his best work yet by far, and I hope he continues down this path.

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    • This gets a worse rating than “Guttertown”? That is just off. Why do you keep whining about the lyrics when your boyfriend released a song called “Cunt of a Whore” at the age of 39? But, again, this review will get you attention. Can’t wait for your review of his song with Jashie’s band, last false hope.

         1 likes

      • Also, Rage is a semi-active band and Tom still plays with them. He is not an ex-member.

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        • I think it’s significant because it has to do with the conversation due to this statement from Trigger:

          “Have I ever done a review for Last False Hope? Why do you think that is?”

          I am very familiar with this review as I have referenced it in various post on the site…including the one about Jahshie P. threatening assault (and have also visited this site and read and responded to many of the articles for a long while. So I am familiar with a vast amount of the material). Yes I did have to search for this review to copy and paste it (I’m not going to paraphrase a direct review). I’m not the one who brought anything about Moon Runners, Outlaw Radio, any of that junk up. Neither did Trigger but he said what he said.

          I’m also not saying a song review is an album review. Trigger didn’t say album or song. He said he never reviewed anything. I wouldn’t say it’s not a gotcha, because it is I guess. I’m also not saying I mean it to be a gotcha I’m just saying he’s making a false statement which he is. What I presented is a fact one of which is fine to talk about in this discussion.

          Hopefully that answers your question.

             1 likes

          • You should have been a lawyer.

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          • Thanks I guess? For some reason this double posted in two different responses. Which is weird the comment section for this article has so many different reply comments to comments it’s getting a little hectic keeping track.

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        • I don’t care if it was a 48 track compilation. It could be ten disc. There was a Last False Hope review in that compilation review. I don’t care the title of the compilation. All I care about is was Last False Hope reviewed on this site by The Triggerman? Yes they were. So therefore Trigger has reviewed Last False Hope on the site (while Josh was still here and it received a positive review).

          Yes he could have skipped it and what he said would have been true, but he didn’t so what he said was false. I also don’t think you understand what definitively means because Trigger’s statement was definite.

          I’m sorry to have this back and forth with you over this, but dude you’re wrong deal with it. I don’t understand how you can read anything I wrote in response to you or my initial response and find yourself to be right in any way. I’m sorry. I just don’t.

             1 likes

      • The song was called “Cunt of a Bitch” and it was on the “Ghost to a Ghost” album which I gave a negative review.

        http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/album-review-hank3s-ghost-to-a-ghost

        Pretty harsh words for my “boyfriend”. And if you’re measuring “Family Man” got a 1/2 gun more, meaning it was a “mixed” review.

        Another bias theory swatted out to half court like Mutombo.

        Next . . .

        And what is a “Last False Hope”? Oh wait, that’s that dude that wrote a positive review for Shooter, ON SHOOTER’S OWN WEBSITE! Let’s see how many folks navigate over there and bitch about bias.

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        • MoonRunners is not Shooters site, he is one of many writers. Also, I remember you would sometimes write articles about Outlaw Radio while Jashie was on your site. Seems like the same thing to me.

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          • Moonrunners is Shooter’s site.

            A podcast is a journalistic or entertainment outlet. An album is a work of art, sent out into the world and to journalistic outlets like blogs and podcasts to be criticized. There really is no similarity. Have I ever done a review for Last False Hope? Why do you think that is?

            Are you going to continue to comb through my comments looking for something to bust my balls about, or are you going to defend this album?

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          • Andy not trying to stir stuff up…but you are correct. Trigger did post stuff about Outlaw inculding a compilation review and Trigger you did indeed review Last False Hope on this site while Outlaw Radio was connected. Here is your review of Last False Hope:

            11. Last False Hope–$2 Pints: Gothic punkgrass from the mastermind of the Outlaw Compilation himself: Jashie P and a few close friends. When I first heard this track, I was amazed at the complexity and depth of songwriting, and how clean and pro it sounded. I guess I had just always envisioned Jashie as more of a hack ;) . Seriously, good song, and keep your eyes out for a full length release from them coming soon.

            So while Trigger is entitled to his opinion of the album and I see no problem with it or him not liking it (everyone has the right to their own opinion). I disagree with Trigger saying he didn’t support or review Outlaw Radio related material (or Last False Hope)…because he did.

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          • In other words, “Gotcha, Triggerman!”

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          • Got me what? Comparing a 3-sentence review from 3 years ago, to this 15-paragraph review as evidence refuting the 3rd response in a clusterfucked comment tree to say, “Ah ha!” instead of actually trying to refute my opinions about “Family Man” (which remember, that’s what were talking about here) with substance? Has maybe the idea in ethics of what to cover on SCM evolved over the last few years, and if it did, wouldn’t this be a good thing?

            I’ll take the fact that the only way you can refute my opinions about this album is by attacking my RESPONSES to RESPONSES to comments as a sign your positions are intellectually bankrupt. If you disagree, then maybe actually try to talk about the fucking album. Why did nobody say “gotcha” when I swatted down that I would “never” write Shooter a positive review, and “never” would write my boyfriend Hank3 a negative one?

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          • Triggerman, you’re pretty much making the point that I was trying to make. It would have been more obvious if I could have posted it as a reply to Mr. SITS.

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          • Once again not trying to stir stuff up just pointing out facts. Trigger also that article was written less than 2 years ago (the date March 17, 2010). It would have also had to have been found prior to Jahshie P. leaving this site (which was a while ago now) to fit the standard of promoting something you were close to. I mean if you say I “never” did and you did. Then you did. That’s it case closed. It doesn’t matter length of review etc. or if your mindset has changed now. You said: “There really is no similarity. Have I ever done a review for Last False Hope? Why do you think that is?” You did. I’m just pointing that out.

            You have a bad habit of discounting facts I present on this site to prove points. Whether it be a comment in an article, etc. Everything I seem to bring up is discounted in some way. Most of the time I only bring these things up because you either say to me or someone else show me where I’ve ever done this. When I show you it’s discounted for some reason. Stand by what you say and never say never if you did in fact say it. I don’t mind you progressing but you can’t prove a point by providing false facts to prove it.

            Also to everyone reading (and thinking I’m a Trigger hater) I’m not a Trigger hater at all and we have been critical of each other at times…but also fair to each other at times. I think this is a fine and fair review in my opinion and sticks to discussing the music and I think it may be getting some unfair criticism from people (maybe I don’t 100% know Trigger’s motives I can only know what I read and it seems fair enough). I’m curious Trigger if you had to give this a percentage score what would it get? Would it actually be a 50/100 or would it be any higher at all?

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          • “You have a bad habit of discounting facts I present on this site to prove points. ”

            My question would be why you felt the need to present that particular fact and why you think it’s a significant one. Did you recall that he made a brief mention of that one particular song from memory or did you have to search to find that out. Either way, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if you might be playing the Gotcha game. And I’m sorry,but I don’t think addressing one song in a compilation with many other artists on it isn’t the same as reviewing an entire album of a particular artist.

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          • I think it’s significant because it has to do with the conversation due to this statement from Trigger:

            “Have I ever done a review for Last False Hope? Why do you think that is?”

            I am very familiar with this review as I have referenced it in various post on the site…including the one about Jahshie P. threatening assault (and have also visited this site and read and responded to many of the articles for a long while. So I am familiar with a vast amount of the material). Yes I did have to search for this review to copy and paste it (I’m not going to paraphrase a direct review). I’m not the one who brought anything about Moon Runners, Outlaw Radio, any of that junk up. Neither did Trigger but he said what he said.

            I’m also not saying a song review is an album review. Trigger didn’t say album or song. He said he never reviewed anything. I wouldn’t say it’s not a gotcha, because it is I guess. I’m also not saying I mean it to be a gotcha I’m just saying he’s making a false statement which he is. What I presented is a fact one of which is fine to talk about in this discussion.

            Hopefully that answers your question

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          • “… I’m just saying he’s making a false statement which he is. What I presented is a fact one of which is fine to talk about in this discussion.”

            If you say so.

            Although your notion of him making a “false statement” might be true in a narrowly technical sense and could possibly win the day in a court of law, I would bet a sizable amount of money that what the Triggerman meant was that he had never done a review solely about a Last False Hope music product. So as far as I’m concerned, he did not make a “false statement.” Good work, though.

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          • Jack Williams I’m fine with you disagreeing with me, but you are wrong. I’m sorry definitive statements are just that definite. There was no wiggle room in what Trigger said. Sorry. I like the guy fine and I like his site, but I don’t know any other way around the fact he said what he said. It really doesn’t matter what he meant to say. All that matters is what he said in response to someone. Just to prove a point here is the definition of false statement:

            Definition of False Statement – A false statement is a statement that is either willfully or unknowingly untrue.

            So sorry dude you’re wrong in my eyes and by the actual definition of the word. I appreciate the conversation though and look forward to any in the future.

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          • “Jack Williams I’m fine with you disagreeing with me, but you are wrong. I’m sorry definitive statements are just that definite. There was no wiggle room in what Trigger said. Sorry.”

            Well. Here’s the statement in question:

            ““Have I ever done a review for Last False Hope? Why do you think that is?”

            The name of the product identified in the review title was Outlaw Radio Compilation Volume 1. Last False Hope was nowhere in the review title. Out of 22 songs on the compilation, one was by Last False Hope. By my calcuations, that’s less than 5% of the product. I guess he could have skipped over that one song. Instead, he was was quite jocular when reviewing the LFH song, playfully calling Mr. Jashie P a hack, complete with a winking emoticon. Perhaps that was to give visibility to their professional relationship?

            So I don’t think I’m wrong. At least not definitively. Over and out.

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          • Last comment in this thread folks! Others will be deleted! Stay on topic!

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    • I was waiting for someone to make that point.

      In my opinion, Kellie Pickler’s “100 Proof” blows this out of the water. But then again, it’s blowing most albums out of the water. And as maddening as this may sound, I think whoever put “100 Proof” together understood the Waylon sound and why it is so appealing better than Shooter did with this.

      Folks can laugh at me and say I’ve lost touch, but don’t just read my opinions about “100 Proof,” Chet Flippo, the guy who wrote the introduction to “Wanted: The Outlaws” and “Red Headed Stranger” agrees, as do many others. It may take years, and Kellie may go in a completely different direction with her next album. But at some point, the country world will wake up to the fact that “100 Proof” is pure country genius. Mark my words.

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      • No disrespect as I come here often and have discovered many a great artist through this site and enjoy your blogs,reviews,etc.But you sure seem to mention Chet Flippo a lot.It’s like if Chet said it,then it’s gold.If you don’t believe me,ask Chet.Fuck Chet! He ain’t going to change my mind on what I like or don’t like either.

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        • I tend to disagree with Chet more than I agree. Was just making the point that there is a wide appreciation of “100 Proof”.

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  • I have not heard the album; I’m going to buy it right after this comment. I will give this album a chance.

    This next comment is not to stir up another Hank 3 and Shooter controversy. I am a fan of both and rather neutral about any controversy of the two. I am rather critical of both of their music.

    Triggerman, you said: “Though Shooter’s sonic style may not always be predictable, I’ve found his last few albums to be that very thing in the respect that they will have their moments of greatness, balanced by moments of sheer weirdness and ill-advised content, and when you’re done you’re left with a mixed bag.”

    I feel the exact same way about Hank 3′s Guttertown album; and yet you gave that album a great rating. Again I have not heard any of Shooter’s new album. I guess I shouldn’t be judging until I experience it.

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  • Here’s an idea for Shooter fans who like this album: Instead of fronting ridiculous bias theories that never hold up, challenge my opinions with yours. I want to hear what you like about this album and why. Teach me. Show me where I am wrong. Help me understand why you like this album because I am curious. I want to like music, not hate it. Give solid, valid viewpoints instead of trying to make the conversation veer in the direction of what an asshole I am, so that means I don’t have a right to my opinions. Opinions are just that, and by nature, they are going to be different, and the space between those opinions is where learning can come from.

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    • I’m not trying to attack you Triggerman. I will get back to you on my thoughts on this album after I listen to it.

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      • Oh shoot man, didn’t mean for this to be a reply to your comment, just a general idea for the masses. I actually though what you said was spot on and refreshing. I’m not sure why here years after all hatchets were buried, people continue to frame Hank3 and Shooter and their likes and dislikes together, and I don’t think that is fair to anyone.

        I’m looking forward to your opinions about the album, whether you agree with me or not.

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    • It will be a couple of weeks before I can buy this album, but listening to the samples on amazon & itunes it dosen’t sound that great. I’m a huge Shooter fan I think there are some good songs here & some not so good. I think to understand someones feeling about one album by an artist you need to know there feelings about that artist’s other albums so here’s my opinion on those…Put The “O” In Country: Great album. Loved most of the songs. Liked the rest. Electric Rodeo: An ok album but nothing special. The Wolf: In my opinion his best album yet. Loved the song Slow Train. Black Ribons: I’m also a huge Stephen King fan so I very much wanted to love this album, but I couldn’t. A couple of the songs were ok, but the only great one was the title track. Missed The Boat: I like this one alot. It was good all the way through, but never bad or great. Once again the best song was the live vesion of Black Ribons.

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  • After listening to this album, I actually feel like this should be the album that gets Shooter some mainstream attention. For me, the high points are Daddy’s Hands, The Real Me, The Long Road Ahead (I actually liked the solo), Manifesto #4, Summer Dreams, Southern Family Anthem and The Black Dog. Hell I just named most of the album. I would have to listen to them again when I get off work later to answer your specific critiques on those last two songs. I can say though that front to back there wasn’t a single song I didn’t like. It will likely end up as one of my favorites of the year.

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  • I haven’t heard the whole thing, but caught part of Shooter’s show last night on satellite radio, and he was playing the album; I caught about 3 songs. I thought pretty much most of it was pretty damn good. Maybe not ‘classic’, but definitely good. I’ve also heard “100 Proof” (song, not the album) – Shooter is better.

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  • Lmao. There’s not a single person in the comment section who agrees with you on this one, Trigger. This review is biased and you know it.

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    • Huh. So your theory on why I am bias is based on the fact that my opinions are unpopular. I guess it means these opinions from up top are unpopular and bias as well.

      “Family Man starts off very country, and very good with the song “The Real Me”. A very fun structure and wording, this song allows Shooter to show off his use of dynamics. The second song “The Long Road Ahead” is a good one too, and may be the “hit” of the album”

      “At the fourth slot on the album, “Manifesto No. 4″, Shooter shines doing what I’ve always felt fits Shooter best: not rock, not country, but Southern-fried soul. This song is one of Family Man’s standouts.”

      ““Daddy’s Hands,” the best song on the album from a songwriting perspective. Sincere, impactful, and honest, this is where the Family Man concept comes to fruition and feels right in mood and spirit. This sweet soliloquy to Shooter’s father has the ability to send deep chills through men from its use of memory, and Mickey Raphael’s harp magic takes it over the top.”

      Oh, and I guess this opinion is bias as well:

      “Is Shooter trying to offend Southern people in this song? I would vehemently say no

      You know this is a mixed review, right? Meaning there is just as much good as bad?

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      • First of all I never said the reason this review is biased is due to the fact that everyone disagrees with you. Classic strawman attack. In regards to your bias – how about you show me another review where you pick and choose bits and give some parts, “guns up” and some “guns down”. My theory is that you knew people would be calling you out on being biased and you tried super hard to make it look like you’re not by creating this brand new ranking format that you’ve NEVER used before.

        Still waiting on the explanation as to why you attacked Shooter with that old picture of him that he has addressed numerous times, by the way.

        Oh, and yes, Trigger, I am fully aware that it is a mixed review. Bias can exist regardless of what you “scored” it, a clear case of false dichotomy.

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        • Any mixed review the grading is done that way, this is nothing new. I won’t bombard you with links, but here is one:

          http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/review-justin-townes-earles-harlem-river-blues

          “One gun up for the superb production, musicianship, and for the satisfactory songwriting. One gun down for the complete lack of soul.”

          In that review and subsequent JTE coverage, I was accused of being bias. Then last year he was the SCM Artist of the Year

          Look man, believe it or not, I have a lot of respect for you coming here, and fighting for an artist you believe in. I just wish you and some others would instead of focusing on accusations toward me that are very difficult to corroborate, instead refute my opinions of this album with opinions of your own. If you say, “I like this album” or “I like Shooter’s voice and this is why…” neither I or anyone else can argue with that.

          I am my own harshest critic. Sure, folks can “sandbag” as I like to say, saying nice things to veil true anger and bias towards someone. But with Shooter I would be a fool for trying that, our history is too deep and his fans too ready to jump on me no matter what I do. And make no mistake, if I had done no review at all, THAT would have been seen as a shot at Shooter on it’s own. And if I had written a glowing review, the anti-Shooter crowd, who likely is avoiding this article because they want nothing to do with him, would have come and the comment section would have been completely vice versa. Either way man, I lose. I can’t control others’ actions or opinions. So in lieu, I was as honest as I could be in this review, like I am in all of my reviews. If you don’t believe me when I say that, then we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

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          • I had no idea that’s how mixed reviews were written, I apologize. After another day of listening to the songs, I agree wholeheartedly that “Southern Family Anthem” is indeed a terrible song. As a matter of fact I am contemplating taking it off my iPod as I have no desire to ever hear it again. That being said I still think the review was a bit unfair at points but can understand why you scored it the way you did.

            I also apologize for the bias accusation. I’m sure as a writer that’s a pretty harsh thing to be accused of and it wasn’t cool for me to call you out on that. It’s water under the bridge now.

            On another note, are you planning on reviewing “Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now”, when it’s released?

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        • “First of all I never said the reason this review is biased is due to the fact that everyone disagrees with you. Classic strawman attack. ”

          I call bullshit. Here’s your first post:

          “Lmao. There’s not a single person in the comment section who agrees with you on this one, Trigger. This review is biased and you know it.”

          Triggerman’s interpretation was the same as mine. Now maybe if the last sentence was in a separate paragraph, my interpretation would have been different.

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          • Feel free to interpret that however you want, the fact remains that I never explicitly said that “this review is biased because nobody agrees with you”, nor did I intend for it to come off that way.

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  • I think I get it… Trig, do you think “Family Tree” is a shot against you? Wow this means you’ve had TWO songs written about you, and one inspired by you… at least. Who knows, there could be millions of other songs inspired by or based on “The Triggerman”,,,You should get royalties or at least credit in the liner notes, something anyways. ;-)

    Anyways after listening a few more times, I personally love it. I think it’s Shooter’s best country album to date, and that’s saying alot. You guys should do yourselves a favor and check it out.

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    • Agreed. It’s by far his best country album to date in my opinion. Anyone who says Trigger isn’t biased against Shooter is fooling themselves. Look no further than when he used that goofy picture of Shooter in Stargunn from 20 years ago for no reason other than to poke fun at him.

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      • Yea. Then it was the 3 vs. Shooter thing. Now it’s the Trigger vs. XXX thing…. I was actually expecting this to be the review if he gave one. Thought he might take the high road and just not review it at all…

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        • BTW, goofy pic or not, Stargunn is BAD ASS… You know, if your into rock music.

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      • Still waiting for someone to explain to me how this fits into the “bias” theory:

        http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/shooter-jennings-fires-big-shot-with-outlaw-you

        ““Outlaw You” is a remarkable composition, and an instant Song of the Year candidate….Two guns way up!”

        http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/review-shooter-jennings-black-ribbons-live

        “I can truly say his live performance was top notch. Grade it an A.

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        • The live review was mixed, but no doubt about Shooter in concert, if he comes to a town near you, Go. Your Outlaw You review was very pro Shooter, no question. Just give the record another spin Trig.

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      • You mean this one :)

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        • :-) Yes that’s the one. I still claim Stargunn was a very solid rock band. :-)

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    • “Trig, do you think “Family Tree” is a shot against you?”

      I haven’t heard the song, but based on what’s in the article, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

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      • Really Jack? You have not heard the song and probably never will hear any of this album…. Why are you even making comments in this thread? It is an album review, not a take up for Trig thread. Come on bro, you just come across as a Triggerman fanboy….. embarrassing! Look the whole point of music is to like or not like music, music makes you feel. You just come across as a 3tard. Sorry bro, call em as I see em.

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        • No more comments on this thread either. Nobody wants to see folks bickering back and forth about semantics. Talk about this review in the context of the music, its merits or the lack thereof, or I’ll delete the comments. Both sides have said their peace, now move on. Please and thank you.

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          • Your comment about “folks bickering back and forth about semantics” seems relevant to the other thread and your point is taken, but less so to this thread. I still hold that I didn’t understand Mr. Nathan38401′s point about The Family Tree, as I couldn’t figure out what he meant, at least not from reading the review.

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  • This album is great. It sounds like the Waylon sound the way it should have evolved. Yea, I could do without the overbearing guitar solos, but I didn’t produce this thing. It makes up for it with some great harp. Great album, way better than anything I have ever seen reviewed on here that got a higher rating.

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  • I have yet to hear a Shooter song that made me want to hear another… I will give this a chance though simply because he has been supporting music that I think is excellent.

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  • I think Shooter made some decisions that he knew weren’t going to be easily swallowed (Morello’s solo, Southern Family Anthem’s lyrics), and put them on the record anyway. That may not be the country way of things, but it’s damn sure rock n roll. And thank God.

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  • the LP is ok. musically nice in spots but not something i’d buy. though it is better than “100 Proof”.

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  • Before I say anything else, I am huge Shooter fan. Black Ribbons is one of my very favorite albums of all time and I have him as my freakin wallpaper on my computer. Now that you know that, I have one major complaint with this album. Remember back when Hank3 accused Shooter of stealing his idea with “Put the O Back In Country”? “Southern Family Anthem” to me almost sounds like a rip-off of D. Ray White by Hank3, lyrically at least. Except it seems, unlike Hank3, he doesn’t have a lot of respect for whoever this family is he’s writing about. It’s like he wrote the song for the 75% of the people who watched “The Wild and Wonderful Whites” just because it was funny to laugh at some dumb hill people without understanding their situation. Just a thought, anyways.

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    • “Southern Family Anthem” is about member’s of Shooter’s own family.

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      • And how are we supposed to know that. Does he say it in the song? In the liner notes somewhere. You can’t write a song that offends people, and then hope a back story will filter down to them at some point. And so what if it’s about his own family. In some ways, that might make it even worse. And how is this knowledge some kill shot to criticism? The song is sick and weird to some folks, and you can’t argue with it, that is their true feelings, just like you can’t argue if people say they like it.

        The song was very ill-advised.

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        • I suppose you’re supposed to know that by the fact that nearly every song here deals with Shooter and his family personally, hence the title “Family Man”?

          But I wasn’t trying to persuade anybody to love the song, just stating a fact and countering the criticism that this it’s somehow a ripoff of “D. Ray White.”

          Personally, I like the song and don’t find it to be offensive at all. To me, it represents the album’s central theme better than any track here: that life has it’s ups and downs, that people make mistakes, but family is the tie that binds and the people who are there for better or worse. And the characters in the song and their actions aren’t nearly as uncommon throughout the U.S. (not just the South) as the stereotypical redneck of “Dirt Road Anthem” or “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue.”

          Just two more points.

          1. The whole incest thing stopped being taboo in music around 1964 when the biggest star on earth sang about in a very jocular, carefree manner, and with none of the darkness and consequences covered in “Southern Family Anthem” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3nbRWJN0F0

          2. “Shooter: The one song that’s the craziest is that “Southern Family Anthem” song. When I played that one for her [Jessi Colter], she said, “That’s a hit!” I said, “What? Are you crazy?” She said, “Everybody has crazy trash families!” (chuckles)

          Nash: And you covered a lot of territory in that tune. You’ve got a gay cousin, a murderer, a lot of interesting characters in the song.

          Shooter: It’s true. All of that’s true. It’s all in my extended family. It’s funny, because we all love each other, but we all make jokes like that—we’re all trash, but at least we’re family.”

          http://www.nashville.com/music/2012/03/shooter-jennings-opens-up-about-his-excellent-family-man-cd-ghost-stories-hard-times-fatherhood-and-%E2%80%98lights-in-the-fog%E2%80%99/

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          • Why are you even commenting on this website Adam? How many times have we talked about this? 50 fucking times? How many times has Shooter told you not to come over here and comment? Yet just like Jashie, you can’t help yourself. You can’t stay on your side of the fence. How many times have I left comments over on Moonrunners, even after y’all incessantly call me out in your titles and branding and content, and rip off my shit? “What is Couch by Couchwest? And why should you care?” What is that, man? What the fuck is that? Can you knuckle heads do anything without calling someone else out? You harbor a guy who wants to “shank” country music. You point a fucking tank at the Country Music Hall of Fame, you call out Hillgrass Bluebilly records. Yet then act like you have some bullshit mandate to unite the underground which doesn’t want to be united, can’t be united, and will never be united.

            You want to talk about a “Family Man”? Well Saving Country Music used to be a family, and underground country much tighter until you and Jashie and Shooter fucked it up with your egos, just like Heinrich below said. You and Shooter didn’t even know who Rachel Brooke, Hellbound Glory, or .357 String Band were until I held your hand and showed them to you, but your arrogance made you think you knew everything. “The whole incest thing stopped being taboo in music around 1964″. Well thanks a fucking lot Chet Flippo. You think you’re some grand music historian? You need to check your arrogance my friend, and that means a LOT coming from me. What you are Adam is a hack fan zine editor sniffing under artists’ balls for acceptance, and furthermore, you have no place on this website. So do yourself, Shooter, and the rest of us a fucking favor, and get the fuck off of my website!

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  • I haven’t listened to the album yet, so I can’t comment on it, but listening to the samples, I am very confused how Trigger can endorse, as country, some of the shit Hank3 pulls (or more accurate, sweep under the rug some of the shit Hank3 pulls) and how Trigger can endorse stuff Joe Buck does as country.

    That isn’t a shot at Hank3 and Joe Buck’s love/knowledge/respect of country music, but a lot of what they do just isn’t country, or not “civil country music” that we should be shocked isn’t being accepted by the masses. As someone mentioned above, Hank3 puts out a song “Cunt of a Bitch” at 40yrs. old??? And isn’t Joe still calling himself Joe Buck “Yourself” at 40+yrs. old. I mean come on…

    Shooter deviates from country at times, but there is no confusion or discussion whether Shooter is a devil worshiper or a meth supplier/user.
    He is a self proclaimed nerd, and respectfully that comes through sometimes…He doesn’t have the aura his dad did, few if any do, so we should not be comparing them. He clearly loves his dad and his dad’s legacy and tries to meld it with his personality/skills.

    I think there is some bias here. I mean hell, I don’t mind HonkyTonk Bodonkadonk when I hear Jamey Johnson sing it. That is bias, right?
    Maybe Trigger listens to albums and gives his honest assessment, but I think when he reviews any of the polarizing figures….Shooter/Jamey Johnson there is a very high bar to reach with Trigger, and to Trigger’s defense, he really wants these guys to reach that bar. He sees them as ones that can turn this whole thing around. When they fall short, he is pissed, and may give a hard review.

    LIkewise, when someone out of the blue like Kellie Pickler, who I assume Trigger had a very low bar of expectation set…he was blown away, thus the review was through the roof.

    I’ll listen to the album and if it is good, I will accept Trigger’s challenge and try to tell him why. If it doesn’t do it for me, I’ll agree with him.

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    • ————————————— Hank3′s “Cunt of a bitch” is about his anger towards a woman who knocked him out and stole his drugs and wallet. “That cunt of a bitch, she took my wallet, and that’s how it went down”, is where the title came from. The language is offensive and immature, but the story isn’t far from something Cash would sing.——————————- The comparison is between Shooter sing about how hes proud that his family inbreeds (I wish my father would have molested me so that I could be more talented) , and a song where Hank3 uses the word cunt, which is another name for a vagina. Everybody loves a good vagina. Can’t you see the two aren’t even in the same realm?

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  • I don’t agree with you 100% on this. I bought this album yesterday cause I couldn’t pass it up for only being $4. I actually think it’s a good solid album..not great but good. It is a different album from his previous albums but he intended it to be that way. I like his southern rock songs from his past albums but couldn’t stand his Black Ribbons album at all…just wasn’t my thing. This album is much slower and I like it that he did something like this because I was afraid he was gonna pigeonhole himself into doing only southern rock style music. You didn’t like the Black Dog song but I think it’s a cool dreary dark song.

    I know there’s this big thing between you and the Shooter camp but can’t we get over all this drama crap. I’m honestly really tired of reading about all of this bickering. Let’s get back to the music.

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  • Triggerman: just listened through the album, and I think your assessment is pretty much spot on. I’m not really in on the whole “Shooter is fighting the good fight” thing, so maybe I don’t understand the context of this album. And for a bit of perspective, I thought Black Ribbons was a really nice concept album. I thought it worked well in the middle of “the Great Recession” in a post 9/11 world.

    Onto Family Man…

    I would quibble with you about Born Again. I personally think it’s better than “remarkably unremarkable”. My reason is I can actually hear some emotion in the song, something I think was lacking in other parts of the album. It does kind of lose me toward the end when he slips into his industrial style.

    I tend to agree with the Long Road Ahead in that it’s probably the best song on the album, with the Deed and the Dollar being in a close second. re: Long Road Ahead, I think some kind of instrumental solo would work in the song. I did notice on about my third listen through that if you ignore about the first 12-15 seconds of the solo, the final 6 seconds work better with the song.

    Southern Family Anthem is the worst song on the album, bar none. Apparently there was some hubbub about it earlier? Well today is my first time hearing this song. It seems like an attempt at Drive-by Truckers story telling trying to show another side to the south that’s not “cheesey grits” (lol), and pickup trucks. There a lot of “dark” places songwriters can go while dealing with “southern” themes which allow an artist paint a picture that leaves a lasting impression. As I mentioned, the Truckers do it all the time, and they do it really well (examples: “Go-Go Boots”, “The Fireplace Poker”, “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife”, “Bob”). Unfortunately, this song seems to go for shock value exclusively, and ultimately becomes a stereotype. Additionally, I thought the song was “actually unlistenable”. It took me 3 listens to even understand what the hell he was saying in some parts.

    As a holistic comment, I think Shooter fell into a lot of the same traps that I’ve seen from Jason Boland & the Stragglers as well as the most recent Ryan Bingham. This trap, IMHO, is attempting so hard to not sound like pop music, that you over-compensate in the other direction, which ultimately sounds like a cheap knock off of Waylon trying to be Waylon.

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  • I dig the record. Not quite sure why anyone would be “Anti-Shooter” in these times, there’s plenty of shit “country” music out there.

    Triggerman, it really is obvious-you just don’t like the guy…

    …which is why I came here! I wanted a “critical” review. I got what I wanted. It’s well written, detailed and fair, and damn, the absence of “Outlaw You” does piss me off…

    3 1/2 stars out of 5.

    ..and as a point of reference as to how much my opinion is worth?

    I like The Eagles.

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  • i wanted to close this case, but when i see all those comments here, there’s one more thing to say:
    shooter and XXX came to unite a divided underground scene.
    shooter and XXX have divided a united underground scene.

    i hope everybody learned something out of that…

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  • Listened to the album and really enjoyed it in the sense it was much more Waylon-era music than I expected. I thought “Deed and Dollar” was going to be the best “waylon” style offering, but that actually is one of the least favorites I have because of some of the odd lyrics that seem forced.

    In honesty, it is to bad Shooter’s voice isn’t a bit stronger. I think these songs have alot of life and again, that deep “Waylon” sound. But Shooter’s voice isn’t there. Sorry Shooter.

    I do like the album a lot. Hope he continues this direction, because after hearing his cover of “Call Me The Breeze” on Imus Ranch II, Shooter can kill the hard/pickin’ country.

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  • Man, comment threads get ridiculously off topic and hateful here sometimes. Maybe you should divide the comment threads into two columns with retarded bullshit and bickering on one side, and relevant to the music on the other. It really is frustrating to try and sort through to find actual opinions on the music. And I’m not finger pointing or singling anyone out, but it is rampant here. Not that it isn’t rampant on every other website/blog in the world.

    Anyway, on topic: I agree with a lot of Triggerman’s review of this album (though I probably wouldn’t put some of it quite that harshly). But, like most of what Shooter has done over the course of his musical career, I immensely enjoy some of it, and strongly dislike some of it. Some of his songs are incredible, and grab me by the gut. He has some truly moving music, and I really love how he sings on a lot of it- his tone, control, andthe amount of soul in the singing. Daddy’s Hands is fantastic. Then there’s a lot of Shooter’s music that I hear a few times and never need to hear again. But, that being said, I can actually appreciate the fact that his music can be so eclectic. Some of it I love, and some of it I hate, but I’m glad he’s doing what he feels like he needs to do, and staying true to himself as an artist. It’s probably not what he should do from a strict career standpoint or to bring the current top 40 country crowd into his fan base. But I think that every album he does is approached with the midset of “this is the music I want on this record, and so this is what’s going on there”. And while it isn’t all what I like, I think it’s good that he stays true to himself as an artist.

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  • I have the same opinion with Shooter that I have with guys like Ryan Adams. He needs an editor. I agree with this review for the most part. It has its moments. The rest. Meh.

    Another thing I want to throw out there. Southern Family Anthem. Anyone else see a huge Drive By Truckers influence from the vocal delivery to the lyrics to the general production of the track??

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  • The 6 SCM Commenter Archetypes:

    The Crazed Country Rebel
    These fans of Hank3 are so rabid that they will take offense to any slight (perceived or real) against the Williams scion. They demand that all artists be directly compared with Hank3 and will force such comparisons at any given moment. They believe that although not his best, Damn Right Rebel Proud is better than anything you’re listening to.

    The Jennings (formerly The Johnsons)
    Because the human species is predisposed to polarize conflicts in order to provide selection pressure for our evolution, these commenters insist that Shooter Jennings (formerly Jamey Johnson) are in opposition to and better than Hank3. These commenters are unconcerned with the fact that the content of the blog post has nothing to do with Hank3. They sleep happily knowing they have supported their preferred artist against the tyrannical hands of the Hank3 internet oligarchy.

    The Attorney
    In return for years of turning them onto music they otherwise would not have found, these commenters feel it is necessary to defend Triggerman to the death if necessary. The fact that Triggerman defends himself to extremes is of no concern to these individuals. Aroused easily by conflict, The Attorneys are frequently at opposition with The Jennings.

    The Musician
    For ostensible perspective on matters, The Musician only comments from a 10,000 foot elevation. Involved with music for years, The Musician is uninterested in nuanced details and prone to draw comparisons between eras or “scenes.” The Musician may be/have been an active musical artist, but this is not a requirement. The Musician is not interested in what music you like now, because he/she has already heard the next great thing at the regional dive and/or local radio. In spite of this, The Musician is not prone to conflict with other commenters.

    The Anti-Pop
    The Anti-Pop is physically sickened by the sight, mention, or sound of pop country music. The Anti-Pop believes that a good song has never been heard on the radio and that focus should never waiver from the underground or independent labels. The Anti-Pop believes that the only appropriate way to record an album is in one take using a phonograph cylinder. Otherwise, it isn’t authentic enough and is, thus, pop music. If the smell of pop country music wafts through the air, The Anti-Pop will instinctually question why Obscure Band That Doesn’t Tour’s new album hasn’t been reviewed. The Anti-Pops may also run into conflict with The Attorneys.

    The Drive By
    A crowd favorite, The Drive By stumbled across SCM for the first, and likely only, time. Easily identified by poor punctuation, spelling and blinded defense of their favorite artist, the quality of comments left by The Drive By was previously found only in bathroom stalls. taylor swift roxx. U r a hater! Justin more will kick your ASS. he really knows how country I am! Despite their intellectual inferiority The Drive By can rouse the emotions of both The Anti-Pop and The Attorney. The Drive By’s favorite album is whatever was just put out by the artist on the biggest poster on their bedroom wall.

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    • Brilliance!

      I may have to steal this at some point.

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  • I’m looking forward to you getting your ass beat are muddy roots

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    • The drive by

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    • Ha! Why, because I gave Shooter a mixed review? This is the kind of vermin you attract when you brand your stuff “XXX”.

      Don’t tell me about it motherfucker. Bring it.

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  • And…comments closed!

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  • What is wrong with being biased? You are reading one man’s “opinion” or “review.”

    AND I WILL SAY NO ONE IS TOUCHING ANYONE AT MUDDY ROOTS. If anybody even tries to hurt anyone they will deal with me and my staff personally. This goes for anyone and everyone. No questions asked.

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  • I saw Shooter perform last night here in Minneapolis on the “Magical Misdemeanors” tour with Cody Canada and The Departed.
    Cody was rock solid, never seen him since his CCR days, surprised he lets the rest of the band sing as much as they do given his name is on the band. I was impressed by all.

    Now to Shooter. I’ve seen Shooter in the past and this was a different Shooter Jennings. I’m not going to knock a guy trying to find a way in a business his dad was an icon in and how he deals with that, but last time Shooter came through Minneapolis (pre-Black Ribbons) was maybe 2005. Then, he sang half dozen Waylon tunes, played Waylon’s guitar and talked a lot about his dad. He came through MN a couple years ago on the “Waylon Live” tour he did, again, playing dad’s stuff, mixing in some of his own. I enjoyed it being a Waylon fan, but clearly he was in the shadow.
    His albums since and the Black Ribbions experiment, after last nights show, confirm to me Shooter has been trying things, getting comfortable in himself and the family legacy and maturing. Not every step along the way has been perfect.

    But I think he has found something. Last night, no mention of Waylon. No Waylon songs, No Waylon guitar.
    I’ve mentioned that Shooter’s voice is sometimes weak, but last night it was rock solid. Best I’ve ever heard.

    Black Ribbons type music was no where to be found, which I thank him for.

    “Southern Family Anthem” got a huge crowd response.

    He played two songs from the upcoming Sept. album and WOW they are serious country stuff. Don’t expect some groundbreaking topics, real country music is about livin’ hard, and these two songs were awesome. He name drops in them, but it isn’t for show, it is genuine.

    He played “Outlaw You” and the crowed response was huge too. The live version of the song is much better to me than the recorded, I think he did the right thing leaving it off an album. It is a live show song.

    I don’t think this is a phase or attempt by Shooter to cash in on something. I think he has found himself. Not surprising since he is married and has a couple kids, that has effect on people. His demeanor and confidence was different, and he did what he needed to do, and did it respectfully…stepped out of Waylon’s shadow. The influence is there, as it should be, but Shooter is his own now.
    There are some rumors that he and Lukas Nelson and Jamey Johnson have been hanging out… that could be special.

    After seeing Shooter live, it is clear that many that critque him haven’t seen him, and don’t know him.
    Trigger challenged some of us in this blog to convince him his review is bias or wrong and not simply say it is because he doesn’t like him. Well, I accept the challenge… go see Shooter live.

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  • Just wanna say that country music today isn`t country music.Thank God we got Shooter Jennings,Jamey Johnson,Ted Russell Kamp,Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackberry Smoke. All those pretty boys ( or hony tonk queens) like Vince Gill,Brad Paisley,Toby Keith etc. ain`t country music.

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