When one speaks of Shooter Jennings, some call him a modern-day outlaw. Some might even refer to him as a "badass" because of what some term his outspoken style. However, you'd be hard-pressed to run across a more polite individual than Shooter, who delves into his personalities on "The Real Me," a cut from his new CD, "Family Man," where he states, "Most people who know me say I'm as nice of a guy as could be. That's all fine, because most of the time, they never get to see the real me." Jennings smiles when thinking about the lyric.
"That song is the eternal struggle of anyone in this business," he admits. "You're around drinking, and all this other stuff, and in a tongue-in-cheek way, as much as I try to be the best dude I can, I screw it up - just like everybody else does. It's the real me. My dad was a very nice dude, and I try to too. But, when I get some alcohol in my system, you never know what happens. I just try to clean up all my messes the next day."
"Family Man" is a bit of a different direction for Jennings, as it is more of a nod to an acoustic sound. Jennings hit at radio in 2005 with "Fourth Of July," but subsequent releases failed to find favor at mainstream country radio. But, the singer -- currently promoting his single "The Deed And The Dollar," thinks the box that he hasn't fit in might be expanding just a bit.
"You know what I've started to learn? When I first came out, I was about 24 years old, but as I'm getting older, and everyone else is too, that box is starting to open up. I think that country radio -- five or six years ago, had a solid grip. Record sales were through the roof, and they knew exactly what they wanted. Now, I think they are having to open it up a little bit, because the formula isn't working like it used to."
Jennings states that he thinks a "Back to Basics" movement might be coming down the road. "I'm finding a lot of artists are becoming more geared toward traditional country, like Kellie Pickler's new record. I also love Miranda and the Pistol Annies a lot. I've always been a fan of Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, and George Strait, and people who were neo-traditionalists. My faith has been renewed in country radio and where it's going."
He admits "Family Man" is somewhat of a more laid-back sound, which he says is more than a little ironic. "When we first came out, we were bridging the country and rock, but now that all these artists are doing that, it's almost as if the rebellion thing is to go against the outlaw sound, and make it as simple as possible, and see what happens."
One of the more intriguing songs on the album is "The Black Dog." Of the tune, Shooter says "I wanted to write like a Civil War-era ghost story. On the Internet, I found this story, and that was it. I loved that it was about a dog. I started adapting it, and it took about four months to find the right melody. It's one of my favorite songs on the record."
The video for first single "Deed and the Dollar" is a touching montage of video clips of his own growing family, including longtime girlfriend Drea de Matteo and their two children.
"It's changed my life in the best of ways," Jennings says of daughter Alabama and son Waylon. "Having the two of them is like my saving grace. Raising kids is having people that you have to be responsible for. There's no more being irresponsible to yourself and being self-destructive. All that stuff has to go out the window, because there are two people that are a lot more important than that."