My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

EP Review: Shooter Jennings – ‘Don’t Wait Up (For George)’

artworks-000082005433-z3hlej-t200x200Not even a month after Sammy Kershaw released a full-length George Jones tribute comes an EP from Shooter Jennings celebrating The Possum. At just under twenty minutes long it’s a brisk collection and a thoroughly modern one at that.

Don’t Wait Up (For George) finds Jennings completely reimagining four of Jones’ classic hits in his own style, instead of just reciting them as they were written. The results are progressive modern rock, which isn’t surprising given Jennings’ catalog to date, but does little to honor Jones and his traditionalist leaning ways.

The project kicks off with the only original number, a song Jennings had written for Jones, who was going to include it on the forthcoming album he never got to record. “Don’t Wait Up (I’m Playing Possum)” is a wonderful lyric with a biting intensity that would’ve given Jones the space to turn in a killer vocal. The production here is crowded, but nicely restrained.

Jennings’ take on “She Thinks I Still Care” follows the pattern of the title cut, and pares progression with a tender country vocal. There’s a haunting vibe to the proceedings, too, accentuated by the steel guitar heard just underneath Jennings’ vocal. He’s purer on “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me” and acoustic on “Living In A Minor Key,” the best moments on the EP. When Jennings forgoes the overtly rock overtones, he allows the songs to shine.

The only obvious misstep comes with “The Door.” While Jones brought his usual pure country tendencies to the mournful ballad, Jennings lathers it in grotesque rock production that drowns the pain conveyed in the lyric. He could’ve done much better if he’d let the lyric shine through a bit more and kept the clutter to a minimum.

While not what I would expect from a tribute to Jones, Jennings does a good job of making these songs (minus “The Door”) his own without doing disservice to The Possum and his memory.

Grade: B

3 responses to “EP Review: Shooter Jennings – ‘Don’t Wait Up (For George)’

  1. Ken August 9, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Listened to a couple of tracks that are online. “She Thinks I Still Care” is almost tolerable but if he wasn’t Waylon’s kid nobody would likely pay any attention to him. Best I can say is that he’s not as bad as Hank Williams III. But that isn’t saying much.

  2. Jonathan Pappalardo August 9, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    I thought Hank Williams III did a great job when he teamed up with Marty Stuart for “Picture From Life’s Other Side” from Stuart’s most recent Sugar Hill Records release. I haven’t listened to his own output, but know he stays away from any comparisons to his famous family on purpose.

    As for this EP, I agree with you. I was expecting something a lot different than what Shooter delivered – deep classic country elements. The rock stuff threw me.

  3. Leeann Ward August 9, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    This is about what I expected from Shooter Jennings, which doesn’t fit into my listening preferences. I do like a lot of Hank III’s country output though; I just wish he’d tone down te harshness of his content a bit. It can get rough.

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