‘Sometimes Y’: Shooter Jennings and Yelawolf Album Review

by Jonathan Howard

“It was like we were in the middle of this conjuration and you turn around, look back, and you have this whole piece of art that you’ve done.”

That is how producer Shooter Jennings described the making of the Sometimes Y album in an interview with Outsider. Jennings has had a rocky road in his career. Now, firmly into the second phase of his music career, multiple Grammy Awards later, he’s turned his attention to a new project. Sometimes Y. The first single, “Make Me A Believer” gave the public a taste of what was to come.

Shooter and Yelawolf are the exceptions to the rule. When everyone else is doing the same standard thing, these two set out to “blow peoples’ minds.” Along with the band members that Jennings has toured and played with for years, the group got together in June 2020. Right after George Floyd’s murder… in the midst of protests… a global pandemic… and they recorded it at Sunset Sound. There was a greater sense of purpose while recording as well.

“So, you go outside and it’s like… loud,” Shooter said about the atmosphere outside of the studio. “And you can’t see any of it, but you can hear all of it. It was really intense. It made it, like, whatever was going on inside of that room, had to be good and had to be done very seriously.”

And that’s exactly what they did.

‘3…2…1… and Sometimes Y’: Album Takes You Through the 1980s and 90s in a Spaceship from the Future

From the start of the self-titled track Sometimes Y, we get a taste of the unique style and sound that these two ’80s kids grew up with and loved. Shooter said that “Beat It” by Michael Jackson was still one of his favorite songs ever, and those MJ vibes play out in this opening track.

The intro puts us in the setting of a spaceship, about to take off. We hear the countdown start from 10 and slowly tick away… “3…2…1…and Sometimes Y.” It is an unknown journey, but an exciting one. Yelawolf brings intensity and power with his first line of lyrics as the synth from Shooter fades out and the band comes in.

I gave everything up when I came to that corporate room/But giving up my last okay wasn’t good enough for you.”

With guitars and drums reminiscent of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty,” that is something you feel a lot throughout the album. “Oh that’s familiar,” you might think to yourself. However, listen to 100 bands, 1000 bands, and you won’t find one sound that is a copy.

Throughout the rest of the album from Hole In My Head to Radio, and Moonshiner’s Run, there are these heavy 1980s vibes but yanked into the 21st century. No two songs are exactly the same style, and that’s because this is a love letter to the music that these guys grew up on. Everything from Metallica, NWA, Tom Petty, and so many more.

Yelawolf is the Center of ‘Sometimes Y’

While you listen to the album, especially if you have been a Yelawolf fan for as long as I have, the lyrics and the storytelling are all him. You can almost hear some of these lyrics being turned into his usual hip hop if he wanted them to be. Shooter wanted to blow other peoples’ minds. It turns out, his partner in crime blew his mind.

“[Little did I know] that Yelawolf was going to blow my mind as a front guy, and a songwriter and a singer.”

Here are some lyrics from the third single released from the album, Jump Out The Window.

I’ve been a missionary for the devil/I’ve carried so much weight upon my shoulders/I’ve seen an open sky from underground/I fell asleep inside and almost drowned/Been in a corner with a king or two/I shared a stage with a legendary few/Been broken-hearted by the ones I trusted/But none of that compares to what she put me through.

Those that haven’t been paying attention need to start. When he cut the last track of the album, “Moonshiner’s Run,” the band was spent. Emotionally and musically. But Yelawolf hopped in the booth and caught a floating butterfly. He clapped and made noise with his mouth to demonstrate the sound he wanted, got the chorus lyrics written up, and then made a special phone call to his buddy Cambo, who has wanted a song about him for a long time.

If you’re from the south, you’ll like Cambo’s intro that breaks down how to make moonshine in a bathtub.

“That was a magical moment,” Shooter said. “That was one of those things where you go like, ‘Man what just happened?’ Literally from nothing to a full song and this perfectly recorded phone conversation. It was just crazy.”

‘Sometimes Y’ Album Attempts to Resurrect Rock n’ Roll

Let this album take you from heartwrenching and emotional ballads like “Catch You On The Other Side” to a thrash metal sound like you haven’t heard since early Metallica and Motörhead. If you weren’t convinced by Love Story in 2015, Yelawolf is going to convince you with the Sometimes Y album.

There was magic in the recording sessions and you can feel it in the music.

“It’s a practice, it is a magic, and it is a conjuring,” Yelawolf explained. “You’re not even looking in one direction at all. You’re looking left right, left right, pacing around, chasing a butterfly that’s somewhere here, I know. It’s floating around and you just ‘AH!’ jump on it, both hands.”

This wasn’t a jam session that some guys that grew up in the 1980s and 90s got together for. This is a real passion project that was planned for years. And, of course, it happened among some of the most intense and infectious energy you could hope for; rage and anger and pain that comes out specifically in a track called “Fucked Up Day.”

This album has everything. Sometimes Y saw a hole in rock n’ roll, or as Shooter put it, “the corpse” of the genre being carried by a select few artists. Only 10 tracks made the cut, but the group worked on 20 or 30 tracks according to the producer himself. Yelawolf is born and made of the essence of rock n’ roll. Listen to this love letter and try not to be infected with the same passion that Shooter, Yelawolf, and the rest of the band put into this.