Review: Shooter Jennings- Wake Up (single)
Shooter Jennings– Wake Up (digital single)
Black Country Rock Records
On the title track of Shooter Jennings’ 2005 debut Put the O Back In Country, the lyrics to one verse were basically a name-dropping of all of Shooter’s influences. “You take a little country and a little rock and roll”, he sang, “a little Neil Young and a little George Jones. A little bit of Merle Haggard and a little bit of The Stones. Add a little Cash and a whole lotta Waylon.”
I’m sure that mix sounds as perfect to you as it does to me, but Shooter has failed to live up to those lyrics. That album as well as Electric Rodeo were great, five-star albums that mixed outlaw country and southern rock, but The Wolf was mainstream country at its worst. Judging from the new single “Wake Up”, those hoping Shooter would come back to the fold with next year’s Black Ribbons will be disappointed, but if you keep an open mind you may enjoy it anyway.
The song opens with just Shooter’s voice and a piano (which I assume is played by Shooter, as it is his instrument of choice in concert). The voice has a slight echo effect and after finishing the first ballad-like verse, a stream of electronic sounds takes over. We’re not talking about up-to-date dance music, we’re talking about the type of sounds that you have not heard since the heyday of The Steve Miller Band. Below all of this is a bass line that sounds like it could have come from Pink Floyd‘s The Wall.
Shooter then begins to sing the second verse, unleashing what are undoubtedly his most political lyrics thus far. But these are not liberal or conservative political lyrics. Instead the songs them seems to be that we need to overcome politics and come together to overthrow the rich and those in power (that’s what I got from it anyway). Crossing party lines, overcoming differences, and, especially, populism, seem to be hopeful messages, but I’ll be damned if the amount of pessimism in this song isn’t downright disturbing.
Then there is a guitar solo that sounds as if it could have came straight out of the Rage Against the Machine songbook. Personally, I have no problem with that because RATM are among the better rock bands of the modern-era, but granted it isn’t what you expect from a Shooter Jennings single.
Then he begins singing again and the pessimism continues:
“Don’t believe that the system is failing
Don’t believe that the planet is dead
They’ll save all the food for their fat fuckin’ bellies
So the starving will kill to be fed”
A quick Google search finds that Shooter is now engaged and has recently had a daughter. I find that hard to believe. How can the man who wrote, “Fourth of July”, one of best feel-good tracks of the decade, write this? Again, not that its bad, but it isn’t what you expect.
The music then picks back up and a chorus develops over heavy guitars and drums, followed by another guitar solo, this one with a slight blues-rock influence. The track ends with Shooter chanting over and over the line “Life is a movie and we are all actors. Don’t let them edit you out.”
Over six minutes in length.
The new album will also have tracks called “God Bless Alabama” and “California Via Tennessee” so I don’t believe he has totally abandoned his roots, at least thematically, but good luck finding any hint of country or southern rock on this track.
Some of you probably do not want to hear this song, so I recommend traditionalists and purists to not even give it a listen. But if you are more open-minded and have a more eclectic taste, you may enjoy it. In conclusion, its not his best work, but I’m still eager to hear the whole album.
Final rating: 3.5/5