BLACK RIBBONS, the highly anticipated new album from singer-songwriter SHOOTER JENNINGS, features a unique collaboration between Jennings and best-selling author STEPHEN KING. The 70-minute concept album, in stores on March 2, sees King providing the voice of “Will O’ The Wisp,” a late-night talk radio host who is in the last hour of his final broadcast before the airwaves are overtaken by “government-approved and regulated transmissions.”
With nothing left to lose, the radio host lets loose with a series of rants, punctuating his diatribes with selections from the discography of (Jennings’ new band) Hierophant. Throughout the album’s 14 songs, Will O’ The Wisp flits in and out, painting an apocalyptic picture of what America could become in the not-so-distant future, while offering his loyal listeners-from whom he is about to be permanently cut off-the unvarnished truth. ennings and producer Dave Cobb completed the album in early 2009, but had yet to fill the crucial role of the story’s DJ. Jennings decided to reach out to King-who was a fan and had written him into his best-selling novel Lisey’s Story (2006). The author was intrigued by the invitation and came on board after he’d heard the finished tracks. King then proceeded to become Will o’ the Wisp.
To this day I’ve never met or spoken to Mr. King,” says Shooter. “Someone who had business contacts with him put us in touch and I presented my ideas to him. Through a string of emails we went back and forth about the character and the story of the album, and the few weeks later I had a recording of several voiceover clips-called “The Last Night of the Last Light”-on my doorstep. It was like a digital correspondence with a spectre from the other side-very dark, eerie and profoundly mesmerizing stuff. I’m extremely grateful and honored to have him on this record.”
Says King, “I’ve been a huge Shooter Jennings fan from the very beginning, so I was flattered to be asked.”
Musically, Black Ribbons (Black Country Rock/Rocket Science Ventures) is a mind-blowing opus that completely obliterates genre distinctions. On this unprecedented work, twanging dobros coexist with Nintendo chipsets; brutally assaultive passages alternate with moments of unabashed tenderness, and surreal Floydian soundscapes float above smoking slabs of whiskey-soaked southern soul. It’s an electrifying thrill ride across a dense, dark and gloriously decadent musical landscape.
“I wanted to make a different kind of record-a new adventure,” says Jennings. “And no matter what people would think, it was important to not be afraid of anything. I was ready to follow my inspiration, wherever it took me. I know some folks may be surprised at how different this record is compared to my previous works, but I’m sure once they dig in they’ll find something that speaks to them. After all, it’s the twisted road that matters, not the destination.”
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