Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones walk into a bar. Before anyone knows what hit them, this unlikely duo is playing country, folk and Americana-style covers of The Everly Brothers. The big question: Does Foreverly (Reprise Records), the result of this collaboration, actually work? Surprisingly, the answer is yes.
What it comes down to is harmonies and on every turn of this record, Armstrong and Jones perfectly weave their vocals together. "Long Time Gone" is a prime example of the sublime marriage of Jones' dusky vocals and Armstrong's higher-pitched voice, and this reversal of traditional male-female vocalizations is one of the most intriguing aspects of the record. Both Armstrong and Jones shine on their own, too, as when Jones goes solo on "I'm Here to Get My Baby out of Jail," while Armstrong has about half of "Barbara Allen" to himself.
Foreverly is not a lively or happy album, but Armstrong and Jones gamely commit to the tone. "Kentucky" features a heavy Americana influence and "Put My Little Shoes Away" is an ambient piano ballad that is the album's highlight, even though it's a kind of funeral dirge about the death of childhood. "Down in the Willow Garden" is a true-blue country tune about greed and murder, and the country-folk stylings of "Lightning Express" tug on the heartstrings as the duo sings of trying to get home to see their dying mother before it's too late.
This album will be a shock to fans who individually love these artists but can't imagine how they could team up for such an endeavor. But if they can look past that, they'll find a real gem here.