Nashville, TN – “I have always loved his defiantly existential but immediately accessible common man’s music and how it boogies,” says Shannon McNally of the man whose timeless music is the subject of her new album THE WAYLON SESSIONS, Waylon Jennings. Upon the album’s completion, McNally’s collection of tunes ended up being not so much a tribute as it is a recontextualization; a nuanced, feminine rendering of a catalog long considered a bastion of hetero-masculinity. “The world has changed a lot since these songs were first recorded,” says McNally. “I have never heard a woman sing any of them, but these tunes are poignant and relevant to me and to women in general right now.”
Last week, Glide Magazine premiered the music video for “I’ve Always Been Crazy,” the unapologetic groover from Jennings’ 1978 album of the same name. “The name Shannon McNally just rolls off the tongue as one of legitimacy: kind of like Reba, Tanya, or Martina. Or perhaps.. kind of like Waylon,” said Glide in their song review, adding “McNally professes a twangy charm that teaches new-school outlaws like Sturgill Simpson, that her voice deserves top of the playlist rotations.”
Pre-order or pre-save THE WAYLON SESSIONS ahead of its May 28th release date HERE
With THE WAYLON SESSIONS, McNally set out to revisit the songs and spirit of Waylon Jennings, a legend with whom she’s always had an ongoing fascination. Over and over again, she manages to locate a smoldering intensity, a searing hurt buried deep within the music’s deceptively simple poetry, and she hones in on it with surgical precision on this new album, which features special guests Jessi Colter, Buddy Miller, Rodney Crowell, and Lukas Nelson.
“The world has changed a lot since these songs were first recorded,” says McNally. “I have never heard a woman sing any of them, but these tunes are poignant and relevant to me and to women in general right now. As a songwriter, bringing a song to its full potential so that a larger or different audience can connect is all I’ve ever cared about.”
McNally knew that assembling the right band would be essential to capturing Jennings’ mix of laid back charm and swaggering bravado, so she called AMA-winning guitarist Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart, Lucinda Williams) to help her assemble a team that included drummer Derek Mixon (Chris Stapleton), pedal steel legend and longtime Jennings bandmate Fred Newell, Texas keyboard mainstay Bukka Allen (Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker), and bassist Chris Scruggs (Marty Stuart, Charlie Louvin). Working live and raw, they tracked sixteen songs in just five days, relying on instinct and intuition to guide their decisions at every turn. As brilliant as the band’s performances are, it’s McNally that breathes new life into the music here, tackling the tunes with an honesty and a maturity that transcends genre and gender. She doesn’t swap pronouns or couch her delivery with a wink; she simply plays it straight, singing her truth as a divorced single mother in her 40s in all its beauty, pain, and power.
“My goal wasn’t to force anything onto the music that wasn’t there already,” explains McNally. “There’s a feminine perspective hidden somewhere inside each of these songs. My job was to find a way to tap into that and draw it out.” The result is that rare covers record that furthers our understanding of the originals; an album of classics that challenges our perceptions and assumptions about just what made them classics in the first place.
May 1 – Mobile, AL – People’s Room of Mobile
May 2 – Ridgeland, MS – The Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival
May 28 – Nashville, TN – City Winery show and Mandolin live stream
THE WAYLON SESSIONS Tracklisting:
1. I’ve Always Been Crazy
2. You Asked Me To – feat. Buddy Miller
3. Out Among The Stars – feat. Jessi Colter
4. You Show Me Yours And I’ll Show You Mine – feat. Lukas Nelson
5. Black Rose – feat. Buddy Miller
6. This Time
7. I Ain’t Living Long Like This – feat. Rodney Crowell
8. I’m A Ramblin’ Man
9. Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
10. Help Me Make It Through The Night
11. We Had It All
12 Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line (CD/Digital Bonus Track)
13 Waltz Me To Heaven (CD/Digital Bonus Track)