I am not given to shouting loudly and screaming at gigs. I have had Scott Ian of Anthrax make a crowd boo me because “there’s one guy up here, who doesn’t love thrash”, as I wouldn’t act like a performing seal at a gig. Actually Scott is wrong, I do love thrash. You know, the sort of music Anthrax used to play, but I digress.

However, just once, only once in my life have I screamed a request. The first Ramblin’ Man Festival, I was in the country tent watching Shooter Jennings. He said he’d one more left and was going to play a request. I screamed for “Outlaw You”. I am a man in my 40s. I shouldn’t be doing this. I know he was going to play it anyway. When he played it, I punched the air like my team had just scored.

One thing I’ve learned, though, is when it comes to Shooter Jennings you come for the country and stay for the diversions. Even for Shooter, though, this one seemed incongruous. “Sometimes Y” is a pairing that appears to make sense. I am not going to claim that I am a rap music fan, but I’d heard of Yelawolf. I knew he was different to the rest. I’d read a review in The Guardian which had said he was a “master storyteller.”

I love words. I love Shooter Jennings. Right, cool. Let’s give this a go shall we?

Beginning as if it was lifting off from Cape Canaveral, and with some prog overture, the title track wasn’t what I expected. Then precisely 1 minute 13 seconds in, something happens: It turns into an arena rock song. Seething, raging and thunderous, by the second verse Yela is yelling: “They said let that freedom ring and that liar was a joke/I can’t listen to them clowns caught in that circus show/If you believe what they tell you to believe, then that’s control.”

The inference is clear as day: no one is telling them what to think, what to do and what record to make. That’s the vibe throughout. “Hole In My Head” is gentle, lilting, a love song. It was only on the second listen that I heard the words: “the sheets are fresh and the coke is too”. I am assuming this isn’t a soft drink. What it does show, though is how many layers this record has. How much is going on here and how much it has to offer.

Yelawolf is a sensational wordsmith, and Jennings always knows what music to provide, like he did for Duff McKagan a couple of years ago. The bass hums on “Rock N Roll Baby”, it floats around, and the lyrics are poetic, bleak yet somehow beautiful.

Everything here is so well done, but there are some true highlights. “Make Me A Believer”, all 80s power chords and unashamed posturing is one. You find yourself singing the hook at the top of your voice, like you’ve been touched too by the glory. But “…..Sometimes Y” is nothing if not varied. “Shoe String”, with its lap steel whirring, sees Yelawolf speak the rap over the top, its claustrophobic and raw, almost confessional.

Arguably the best thing here is “Radio”. Post punk, you’d have found me at a school disco in the 1980s with this type of synth driven energy, pretending some girl or other liked me. It is quite brilliant and the way it finds itself a hook to explode into is quite something.

Of course they follow this up with something that takes another left turn in “Jump Out The Window”, but this is not a record that is going to follow a path. It knows the best fun happens when you explore. And my, this does that. “Catch You On The Other Side” is a beautiful piano ballad, Elton John would have sold millions with this in the 70s. It’s opening verse lays it bare: “Where did I go wrong I don’t know/Maybe I reacted on insecurities/Maybe my daddy’s to blame I don’t know. “ The emotions here are real. That’s why its so good.

“Fucked Up Day” is terrifying in its dystopia. Somewhere between “Something In The Way” era Nirvana, Billie Eilish, and Yes and there’s a xylophone (which always scares the shit out of me) and if what you are thinking is “I’ll tell you what this needs, it requires a recipe to make Moonshine and a Southern rocker that’s like Black Stone Cherry playing punk” then “Moonshiners Run” got you covered.

“Sometimes Y” is incredible – in any sense of the word – but it’s also one of 2022’s most innovative records. It’s what happens when two gifted artists, simply pose the question: “Y not.”

Rating 9.5/10

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