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Album review: Shooter Jennings imagines 'The Other Life'

The singer-songwriter's new album has a rural-futuristic bent but shows how quiet, open spaces can lead to great flights of imagination.

March 11, 2013|By August Brown
  • Album cover of Shooter Jennings' "The Other Life."
Album cover of Shooter Jennings' "The Other Life." (Entertainment One Music )

Fans of the old Art Bell Coast to Coast radio show — a call-in program about alien encounters that was a staple of Southern late nights in the '90s — might find a lot to like about Shooter Jennings' new album, "The Other Life." There's a bit of a rural-futurist bent (see "Flying Saucer Song" and "15 Million Light-Years Away"), but more importantly, the album shows how quiet, open spaces can lead to great flights of imagination.

"The Other Life" is a showpiece for Jennings' familial knack for outlaw-country hell-raising. Note the Skynyrd-isms of "Mama, It's Just My Medicine" or "The White Trash Song," a collaboration with Scott H. Biram that's less a duet than a drinking game. But it's balanced with ballads of fine, rough beauty. "Wild & Lonesome," with Patty Griffin, owes its sweetness to Willie Nelson and its hoarseness to Jennings' dad, Waylon.

The title track is spare waltz that puts Jennings' vocals and Erik Deutsch's bleary piano up front, and it comes pretty close to devastating. It's the moment you see why Jennings puts so much work into imagining other worlds — because there's a lot of heartbreak in this one.

Shooter Jennings

"The Other Life"

(Black Country Rock/Entertainment One Nashville)

Three stars (out of four)

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