THE NASHVILLE SOUND - JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
- Release Date: 15th June. 2017
- Genre: Americana, Country, Rock, Roots
- Record Label: Southeastern Records
- Tracks: 10
- Website: http://www.jasonisbell.com/
- Review By: Gary Smith (LCM)
'The Nashville Sound' is another superb set of five star songs by Jason Isbell. With a great blend of folk, rock, country and blues, he shifts perfectly and seamlessly between all four. The Nashville Sound follows in the wake of Jason's 2013 breakthrough Southeastern and its 2015 follow-up Something More Than Free, albums that introduced the former Drive-By Trucker and Muscle Shoals native to a larger audience with tales of personal demons and fresh beginnings. After spending the last five years reckoning with past, on this album Jason shifts his focus outward. The Nashville Sound has a great vibe with an almost retro feel but with a fresh modern twist.
Jason has gathered a super selection of musicians (The 400 Unit) to record this album including his wife Amanda Shires. The album was record at the very famous RCA 'Nashville Sound' studio, hence the name. Whenever you see Dave Cobb name as producer is it always a mark of high quality and this album is no exception.
"Am I the last of my kind?" Jason Isbell ponders on his opening song. Singing in character as a down-and-out survivor struggling to play catch up with the rapidly changing country he calls home. But "Last of My Kind" could also be a metaphor for Jason himself, who with his thoughtful crafted lyrics and narrative storytelling approach, has become one of small group of Americana and Roots artists such as Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson to find mainstream success.
He pledges everlasting faith and love to his wife on the beautiful tearjerker "If We Were Vampires," offers parental advice on the bluegrass flavoured "Something to Love," and delivers an urgent and timely warning to the white male demographic, which overwhelmingly voted for Trump in the last US election on "White Man's World."
The Nashville Sound hints at Jason's roots on up-tempo rockier tracks like "Cumberland Gap" and "Hope the High Road". The majority of the album though is closer to the laid-back roots-country music Jason has honed to perfection over his past albums with producer Dave Cobb. Yet, on super moments like the Elliott Smith-inspired meandering melody on "Chaos and Clothes," or the slow-building guitar led reflective "Anxiety," Jason points to a more wider and expensive musical future, one where he's free to follow and forge his own path.