Shannon McNally

The Waylon Sessions
Shannon McNally
Shannon McNally

Does the world really, truly need yet another tribute to quintessential country outlaw Waylon Jennings? Yes – especially when it’s overflowing with hot country guitar, honky-tonk piano, and sizzling vocals.

Shannon McNally has assembled an impassioned band to back her on this romp through 13 classics. Her vocals lead the way, paying homage to Waylon, but she still makes the songs her own, not just mere covers. The romping piano comes courtesy of Bukka Allen, who also adds Hammond B3 organ on “This Time” and “We Had It All.”

And then there’s those guitars – acoustic, electric, Dobro, and pedal-steel, with tight rhythm riffing and scorching solos thanks to Kenny Vaughan, Fred Newell, and Buddy Miller. Topping it off are harmony vocals from Jessi Colter, Rodney Crowell, and Lukas Nelson.

It’s obvious they’re all having a blast. They often take a couple extended solos and swap choruses, egging each other on. And that enthusiasm reverberates throughout the music. “Black Rose” and “I’ve Always Been Crazy” are killers. But the hands-down standout is a stunning “I Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This,” with so much hot picking you’ll let it run forever.

This article originally appeared in VG’s July 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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