It’s no secret that over the years ninebullets.net went from being huge Shooter Jennings fans to Shooter being one of our favorite punching bags. We don’t write very many negative reviews ‘round these parts, but when we do, the odds suggest that it’s probably a Shooter album we were writing about. In hindsight, it was starting to get mean spirited, but I honestly did not like those albums.
Family Man seems to have found Shooter a lot more centered in his life and the songs reflect that, while his sound has begun to drift back to that of his earlier albums. The album opens with “The Real Me,” which starts off with a classic country sound before breaking off into a chorus that’s a playful turn of words. To be honest, I didn’t like this song at first but after a few listens it’s begun to be one of my favorite tracks on the cd. Up next is a pretty contemporary tune, “The Long Road Ahead”, which features Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine) and Eleanor Whitmore (The Mastersons). This song has been one of my favorite songs on the album from first listen and shows no signs of relenting. “The Deed and The Dollar”, the debut single off the album, is a touching tribute to Shooter’s wife which shows a more tender side that’s not seen too much in music these days. Some of the other standout tracks on the album include “Summer Dreams”, which would have been at home on any 80’s country radio station, and “The Family Tree”, which almost has a mid-70’s Jimmy Buffett feel to it.
My favorite song on the cd has to be “Daddy’s Hands”, which came along right at the perfect time. It’s no secret that my Dad’s sick and this song basically describes my reality right now and, if I’m being honest, when things aren’t going so well with him it’s difficult for me to listen to it.
In the end, the only song on the album that I outright dislike is “The Black Dog”, and everytime I listen to the album I wonder how it made it into the track listing. I guess what I’m saying is that the ninebullets.net pendulem has swung back into the “pro-Shooter” camp and hopefully he won’t put out an industrial-rock album next.
If he does, at least we’ll have The Family Man, an album that I believe is Essential Listening.