What happens when you partner the son of a country legend with one of the greatest and most recognizable writers of the century? You get one of the best albums released in 2010, in my humble opinion.
Shooter Jennings has, thankfully, never tried very hard to shake the shackles of his roots. When your father is Waylon Jennings, why would you? He looks and sounds so much like Waylon, it is uncanny. After putting out several albums on his own, all mining familiar territory of honky-tonk outlaw country with tinges of hard rock, he upped the ante.
Black Ribbons was an undertaking, and I would imagine a hard sell to the label. CD sales—and music sales in general—have been on the steady decline for a few years. So how the long hard, dark-eyed young man was able to sell a cynical concept album about the government control of the media, and land the participation of the one and only Stephen King, is nothing short of a miracle. But it worked. Whatever he did, it worked.
The story arc of the album is an edgy one. In the not too distant future, on a given day, the big bad government will take over all voice media, TV, and radio.
The tale follows a lone disc jockey (voiced by Stephen King) as he conducts his final broadcast before the faceless brutes shut him down. The story is told through his spoken tirades and sermons as well as through the songs by his favorite band, Hierophant, which is essentially Shooter Jennings and band channeling whatever styles seem to suit them.
This album most likely horrified fans of his earlier work, as the music contained on Black Ribbons is a multi-headed beast. Taking some of the country flavored rock he has always presented and incorporating elements of nu-metal, industrial, folk, and alternative.
Stephen King does his best to channel his inner DJ, not a difficult task considering he owned his own radio station for some time, and he knows his music. His role is solid and well-played, and makes the album a more enjoyable experience.
Also of note, the packaging for this particular album is among the coolest I have ever seen, every bit as darkly gorgeous as the music within. A masterpiece that will sadly smolder unrecognized for years until someone discovers it and proclaims loudly from the hilltops what it is: A dystopian prophecy, a 1984 for 2011—or more actually, the sad truth.
Rocket Science Ventures | 2010 | 20 tracks (71:33) | File Under: Indie Folk Fusion