Waylon Albright Jennings was named after his famous father, the country star to whom labels such as “maverick” and “outlaw” were liberally stuck like Post-it notes on a Nashville dive bar’s fridge. He even got to play his dad in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line, but Shooter’s own maverick credentials veer far from any kind of honky-tonk hierarchy.
Shooter’s 33 now, the old man’s been dead for a decade and, on his seventh album, Jennings Jr raises the occasional shot glass to the family name (The Low Road, Mama It’s Just My Medicine), but for the most part he treads his own path. This is country music with its own 21st-century agenda, with an attitude and articulacy that is as much about urban plight as it is ornery back-porch folk.
The Other Life checks in at the expected redneck haunts, but with the lyrical verve of writers from further afield (the pathos of Shane MacGowan on Wild And Lonesome, the doom-laden cynicism of Nick Cave on The Gunslinger). It’s a canny balancing act, embracing the rich heritage of outsider country while riding shotgun as it motors down broader highways of American angst.