Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones team up to cover classic country ballads

David Sackllah

When Kanye West and Jay-Z teamed up for Watch the Throne, or when M.Ward and Zooey Deschanel came together for She & Him, it felt natural. On paper, the pairing of Norah Jones and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong recording an album of Everly Brothers covers sounds like the furthest thing from a good idea. In actuality, though, their collaboration on Foreverly is a faithful recreation. 

There is no doubt that Jones is well suited to sing a collection of classic country tunes. But the idea of the man who wrote Dookie joining her might throw fans of Jones or the Everly Brothers off. Thankfully, Armstrong’s voice has evolved over the past 20 years and his singing here is soft and refined. He becomes a perfect companion to Jones in delivering harmonies. Once the initial shock wears off, the album locks into a steady groove as Jones’ warm voice works wonders and Armstrong’s provides a pleasant balance. 

Fans of Green Day should take note that Foreverly is far removed from hard rock ‘n’ roll. It is an exact recreation of The Everly Brothers’ 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. Fifty-five years later, hearing these songs is like stepping into a time capsule and giving new listeners a glimpse of folk and country music roots. 

While the subject matter is often macabre with tales of murder on “Down In The Willow Garden” or the morose “I’m Here To Get My Baby Out of Jail,” the songs themselves are pretty and affecting. If there is any issue to be had, it is that sometimes the songs sound a little too polished to match the grimness of the lyrics. Foreverly is not as resonant as the originals. 

The main problem with the album is that it is dull. The novelty of hearing Armstrong and Jones play these songs together wears off, and, at that point, enjoyment of the album directly ties in to how much one likes listening to classic country music. It is a fine, authentic project, but one that could use any amount of excitement or energy.