Artist: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
Album: The Nashville Sound (2017)
Purchased at: JasonIsbell.com (online) for $20
Jason Isbell had a modest rise to fame but this album found itself in tons of critic’s year end lists, many times at the very top. He’s still far from a household name but people who really love great songwriting or americana/red dirt country music know his name. After a couple singer/songwriter albums he chose to enlist his talented wife Amanda Shires and his rock band the 400 Unit to make a little louder album.
On “Last of My Kind” Isbell does a dead-on John Prine song and it sounds respectful and natural coming from his lips. The twisted love song “If We Were Vampires” is among the finest Isbell has ever penned, it’s clever, sincere and sweet all at once. Some songs miss the mark, “White Man’s World” is a misguided attempt to take a shot at white privilege and “Anxiety” feels far below Isbell’s writing talent. The rockers included here are great through, “Cumberland Gap” and “Hope The High Road” are both raging and impassioned and will go down as some of his best work when all is said and done.
Verdict: Jason Isbell is pretty much what is good about modern country. You won’t hear him among the pop country artists topping the Billboard charts but he is writing and performing songs far better than them. He’s now decorating his house with Grammy’s and relishing in his fiercely loyal fanbase, you should probably pick up this record and be a part of that fan base.