Record Review: ‘Family Man’ by Shooter Jennings

When Shooter Jennings decided to experiment with different sounds on Black Ribbons, many country fans may have felt betrayed, wondering if the man was having a mid-life crisis or something. It didn’t take long for him to get back to his roots, and on Family Man, he seeks to reexamine those roots, in a more traditional way. Before BR, Jennings seemed to struggle with two sides of himself: one that wanted to explore that rock side, while the other tried to live up to his parentage. Family Man reaches a middle ground of sorts, abandoning both for traditionalist country tunes influenced by family, roots, and reconciling who you are.

The first thing a listener will notice is that Jennings tightened up the screws songwriting wise. This collection is some of his best to date, with a more focuses sound, allowing it’s influences to come out cleanly instead of fight among one another. Instrumentally, Jennings throws everything country music has to offer; most may see it as a bad thing, but Jennings channels them, successfully, and convincingly into these songs.

The LPs first single, “The Deed & the Dollar,” is that love song that has been plaguing Shooter for a long time, but inspired by family, makes it a sentimental classic, and one of country’s best songs this year. “Manifesto No. 4” feels inspired by some of Alabama’s best material, right down to the vocal delivery. The album’s strange relative, “Southern Family Anthem” is still Jennings in his rock phrase, but fits more on this album, than his past attempts.

Jennings greatest accomplishment on this album is finally achieving happiness with where he is and where he comes from. Sometimes we need reminders of that, and this album’s overall goal serves to provide that. With whatever Shooter Jennings decides to do next, fans should be satisfied now, with some of the best songwriting of his career.

Album Rating: Stream It or Digitally Download It (Legally of Course)

Listening Co-efficient: Active Listen

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