Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
The Nashville Sound
(Southeastern Records/Thirty Tigers)
The beauty of a well-written lyric is that often it’s open to numerous interpretations. And Jason Isbell, among many things, is a brilliant songwriter. Take this lyric from “Hope The High Road” off his latest
The Nashville Sound: “Last year was a son of a bitch for nearly everyone we know/But I ain’t fighting with you down in the ditch. I’ll meet you up here on the road.” He’s certainly not hitting anyone over the head with the vocals, but for those who’ve been following Isbell on Twitter, they know he’s no fan of the current White House resident. It’s certainly a refreshing contrast to the “boot in your ass” style patent poetry that some of the folks in the country music world are more prone to write.
Throughout this record, his sixth album since leaving Drive-By Truckers, Isbell has managed to ratchet up an already solid reputation for being one of the best Americana songwriters today. The record builds perfectly on the foundation of his last two efforts, 2013’s Southeastern and his 2015’s Something More Than Free – both career highs.
Across 10 tracks, Isbell vacillates between songs of melancholy and upbeat optimism, a balancing act most can’t pull off this easily. The Nashville Sound finds one of the best at his best.