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Shooter Jennings - Electric Rodeo Review

by Zane Ewton

Shooter Jennings is the offspring of country music royalty. Waylon Jennings was one of the original country outlaws, a legitimate legend alongside his wife, and outlaw pioneer in her own right Jessi Colter. Waylon passed away in 2002 but Jessi continues to record, recently releasing a critically acclaimed solo album.

Shooter has set out to make a name for himself and with a record like Electric Rodeo; he should be well on his way. Last year was Jennings' first real introduction to a wide audience with the rowdy and fun, if mixed bag that was Put the "O" Back in Country. That record was a loud rock record that could also show respect and love for the country legends of past, including a grizzled George Jones slurring through a verse of "He Stopped Loving Her Today".

Just a year later we have Electric Rodeo, an album actually recorded before last year's debut but stands as a far superior album. Everything that made Put the "O" Back in Country likeable is here in spades including country swing, rock swagger and emotional ballads mixed with humor and a reverence for music's past. Shooter owes a bigger debt to his father this time around, intoning a deep baritone in "Some Rowdy Women" and "Hair of the Dog", quoting the elder Jennings lyrics throughout and singing right up to his father in "It Ain't Easy."

The blend of country and rock is far from revolutionary at this point but Shooter is a natural fit as the closest thing to an outlaw the present, disappointingly glossy, world of country music has. It doesn't hurt that Shooter found himself a crack backing band of Leroy Powell, Ted Russell Kamp and Bryan Keeling who add the musical chops to Shooter's hooks. The band can shift between the honky-tonk thrust of "Little White Lines", the bluegrass inflected "Manifesto No.2" and somber mood (in contrast to humorous lyrics) of "Aviators".

Shooter Jennings has a lot of work to do and by the looks of his tour itinerary he is going about business the old fashioned way by taking his show on the road to a different town every night and releasing records every year. It is a refreshing alternative to the way the music business operates these days.

Electric Rodeo should transfer well into the dingy clubs Shooter and his band will inhabit this year. Best of luck to him, it is a long hard road following the life of not one but two country legends.

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Shooter Jennings - Electric Rodeo

Label:Universal South Records

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