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Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound album review

The singer-songwriter is back with his sixth studio album.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Credit: Southeastern Records
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - The Nashville Sound

Credit: Southeastern

If you have even the slightest interest in the Country or Americana genres, you’ll likely have heard of Jason Isbell. The Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter has a passionate fanbase and he’s considered by some to be one of the saviours of Country music. Over his career to date Isbell has released five studio albums with his last, Something More Than Free, in 2015. Now two years on from that album, Isbell has released new album The Nashville Sound with his band The 400 Unit.

When it comes to his music, Isbell couldn’t be more removed from the modern Country scene. He has nothing in common with regular chart-toppers such as Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan and Sam Hunt, harking back more to the classic Country singer-songwriters like Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. In the modern world his contemporaries are the likes of Sam Outlaw and Sturgill Simpson, two artists who don’t get the recognition they deserve. The Nashville Sound sees Isbell continuing to deliver his rich storytelling as he takes on various characters and shares some personal insights too.

The Nashville Sound opens with Last of My Kind, a song that ponders his place in the industry. It’s a valid point given the direction that Country music has taken but it seems that Isbell is part of a newer movement that is trying to take things back to the genre’s roots. One of the most biting moments on the record comes on White Man’s World, a cautionary tale to the Americans living under President Trump. Racism and racial tensions have been a hot topic in America for a long time but even more so under Trump’s baffling Presidency.

Elsewhere on the record the lengthy Anxiety tackles mental health and it’s one of the finest moments on the record. It’s musically majestic and at seven minutes long, it’s an epic track that sits around the halfway mark on the album. The song is one of the most personal on the record and it’s a brave statement. The Cumberland Gap explores drinking, sends a love letter to his wife on the beautiful If We Were Vampires, and album Something to Love is a song of optimism for the life of his child.

Molotov is another highlight on the record. It tells the story of a man wanting to live his life to the fullest, even if that means burning out, but realising he hasn’t followed through on that promise to himself. It’s a relatable song as we’ve all questioned the way our lives have turned out and how we got to where we are.

Isbell is without a doubt one of the finest Country singer-songwriters in the industry today. He goes from strength-to-strength with every album release and he’s picking up new fans every day. Isbell’s music will connect with those who prefer their Country to be grounded more in tradition and his views are bold and unflinching. The Nashville Sound is a solid record from Isbell and may well rank as one of this best.

 

Track Listing: 1. Last of My Kind 2. Cumberland Gap 3. Tupelo 4. White Man’s World 5. If We Were Vampires 6. Anxiety 7. Molotov 8. Choas And Clothes 9. Hope the High Road 10. Something to Love Record Label: Southeastern Release Date: 16th June 2017

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