His last name ensures that Shooter Jennings will always be held to a standard set by his legendary father, Waylon. It’s a fate as predictable as it is unfair, and Shooter decided to sprint from dad’s legacy on 2010’s mind-bending, psychedelic-metal concept album, “Black Ribbons.” If that scared away some country purists, their loss. “Family Man” doesn’t exactly find Jennings stepping up to be the next honky-tonk hero, but he embraces his name and hits with a perfect mix of twang, toughness and tenderness.

From the start, “Family Man” sounds like a reintroduction, with Jennings throwing out an endless supply of signifiers on the bar-rockin’ opener “The Real Me.” “I’m a double-talkin’, chicken-lickin’, meaner-than-the-dickens, sick and wicked, hole-diggin’ son of a gun!” he bellows in one breath, as if to certify his good ol’ boy credentials.

“Southern Family Anthem” splits the difference between Skynyrd and Neil Young, with a dissonant guitar solo and a refrain of “We may be trash, but we’re a family.”

Jennings handles the hard rock just fine and shines on the quieter songs. “Daddy’s Hands” keeps the family theme (“Another Thanksgiving on a rainy day / The whole house smells like a big ashtray / It be loud but that’s our way / We’re a family”) and manages to talk about his upbringing in a heartfelt manner while wrapping it all into a tidy, three-minute tune.

Closer “Born Again” contains Jennings’s most soulful vocals and is one of two songs that earns a great assist from Eleanor Whitmore, whose backing vocals are highlights.

On “Family Man,” Shooter Jennings handles the hard rock just fine and shines on the quieter songs. (Courtesy of Entertainment One)

The real takeaway from “Family Man” is that Jennings isn’t limited to one style. He does arena-size Americana (“The Long Road Ahead”) as well as country-radio croon (“The Deed and the Dollar”) as well as swampy, gospel-tinged groove-rock (“Manifesto #4”). Jennings may have learned a lot from dad, but he’s picked up plenty on his own.

David Malitz

Recommended Tracks

“Daddy’s Hands,” “Born Again,” “The Long Road Ahead”