Hear Shannon McNally’s Hard-Grooving Version of “I’ve Always Been Crazy” from her upcoming LP, THE WAYLON SESSIONS
Album out May 28th; Watch the video for “I’ve Always Been Crazy” now
Releasing via Compass Records, in partnership with Blue Rose Music
April 16, 2021 – 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.” Fans can watch the video for “I’ve Always Been Crazy” right here and pre-order or pre-save THE WAYLON SESSIONS ahead of its May 28th release date at this link.
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 like 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 40’s 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.
THE WAYLON SESSIONS:
I’ve Always Been Crazy
You Asked Me To – feat. Buddy Miller
Out Among The Stars – feat. Jessi Colter
You Show Me Yours And I’ll Show You Mine – feat. Lukas Nelson
Black Rose – feat. Buddy Miller
I Ain’t Living Long Like This – feat. Rodney Crowell
I’m A Ramblin’ Man
Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
More About Shannon McNally: Born and raised on Long Island, McNally has, at various points, called New Orleans, Nashville, and Holly Springs, Mississippi, home, but it was in Los Angeles that she first came to national attention in the early 2000s with her Capitol Records debut, Jukebox Sparrows. A restless creative spirit with a magnetic personality, McNally would go on to release a wide range of similarly lauded albums, EPs, and collaborations over the next 15 years, performing on stage and in the studio with the likes of Willie Nelson, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, Levon Helm, Charlie Sexton, Derek Trucks, Terry Allen, and many more along the way. In 2018, she partnered with Joe Poletto at Blue Rose to develop her new album, THE WAYLON SESSIONS—a collection of songs from Waylon Jennings and his outlaw cohorts. The album will be released on Compass Records on May 28, 2021.
“On this gem of an album, McNally’s covers of the late outlaw country star feel as much a tribute to Waylon Jennings’ attitude and independent spirits to his music.” — MOJO ****
Shannon McNally shared her version of the Waylon & Willie hit, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” this week with the Austin American Statesman and it’s currently up on all streaming services. McNally has a loyal following in Austin, TX where she often joins Texas songwriter Terry Allen’s band and collaborates with prominent Austin musicians including Lloyd Maines and Charlie Sexton.
Shannon tells The Statesman: “I’ve always heard ‘Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys’ as women’s lament. The original version, which was a gigantic era-defining hit for Willie and Waylon, was generally perceived as a rowdy cowboy call to arms, but I don’t hear it that way. To me it feels achy and lonely for the man you love, the same way it must feel being in love with a musician who is drawn to the road.”
THE WAYLON SESSIONS album release show will stream live on the Mandolin streaming platform from City Winery in Nashville on May 28 with guests Rodney Crowell, Buddy Miller, and Kenny Vaughan along with an all-star band.