Shannon McNally “The Waylon Sessions”

Compass Records, 2021

Shannon McNally brings a whole new perspective to great, age-old Waylon Jennings songs.

There is quite a bit of an interesting background behind this new Shannon McNally album, as she revisits the songs of country legend Waylon Jennings. McNally has always had a fascination with the work of Jennings and ‘The Waylon Sessions’ shows that off during the 13 track release. When pondering on the one thing she would do if she could, McNally knew immediately that she’d love to record an album purely of Jennings. You’d be easily lead to believe without hearing the work that this would be a collection of Jennings tracks covered in a mellow, soft fashion; however McNally keeps true to the intensity of Jennings’ original arrangements.

What really springs to the ear on first listen of this record is that McNally seems to bring out a feminine perspective from these songs. McNally, who has fought through a male based music industry during her career, has brought a newfound relevance to the forefront in this collection of Jennings songs. It’s nice to hear them sung from a female perspective and very interesting to hear the original stories told from a feminine voice, which helps a whole new audience connect to the original meanings of the songs.

Although there a very few negative aspects to the record and McNally pulls off all of the tracks in true to form fashion, personal highlights of ‘The Waylon Sessions’ include ‘Out Among the Stars’, ‘Black Rose’, ‘I’m A Ramblin’ Man’, ‘Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys’ and ‘We Had It All’. These tracks seem to have an edge over the other tracks on the album, and while there are very few which are weak, these 5 show off McNally’s class. The intensity that shines through keep you hooked and pull you in more and more.

McNally has picked a fantastic selection of Waylon Jennings tracks here in ‘The Waylon Sessions’ and pulled them off brilliantly. She has brought a whole new meaning to the tracks and you can look at them with a whole new perspective than the originals. It makes you want to go back and listen to the original tracks with a whole new outlook, so that you can pick up brand new details in the fantastic songs on show here.


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Mairi Ann Cullen

As a Waylon fan, I thought I might hate this. But when I read your review and the interview with Shannon, I realised I was in for a treat. Hearing a Shannon sing these songs brings out a different flavouring – and sends one back to re-listen to Waylon’s take on them again. The musicians playing with Shannon are top-notch. I bought the album 👍