This odd, new Everly Brothers album is full of Ma and Pa and sweet gospel singin’ on the radio, harmonizing “family style and country style,” and memories of the old home in Brownie, Kentucky. It is also a showcase for the superb talent of the Everlies as they are today.
To accomplish this, producer Lenny Waronker has woven an unusual fabric of Southern California salon rock, country-tinged rock, and tapes from the Everly Family radio show of 1952. The result is a warm, sentimental album that is nostalgic and contemporary at the same time.
All of the songs on the album are fine vehicles for the high lonesome harmonies and the liquid guitar picking of the brothers Everly. Standouts are two of Merle Haggard’s great prison songs, “Mama Tried” and “Sing Me Back Home,” rendered with fine taste, a perfectly delightful Randy Newman song, “Illinois,” and two re-worked traditional numbers, “T for Texas” and “Shady Grove.” These last two, especially, are beautifully arranged and sung, turned into irresistible toetappers — sort of electric hoedown music.
The final montage of radio tapes, “Shady Grove,” and Carl Davis’ classic “Kentucky” doesn’t quite come off, but in light of the merits of the rest of the album that’s perfectly excusable. Anybody interested in the so-called country revival now sweeping rock should pick up this album. It’s right fine.