JASON ISBELL – ” Duesenberg Starplayer TV “

Posted: January 31, 2021 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: ,

jason Isbell continued to stake his claim as Nashville’s most empathetic wordsmith with his seventh album. A slightly more subdued production than 2018’s stormy The Nashville Sound, the LP still cuts deep lyrically with ballads like “Only Children” and “Dreamsicle” — “New sneakers on a high school court/And you swore you’d be there,” he sings in the latter. The impassioned “Be Afraid” takes aim at silence in the wake of injustice, with Isbell proclaiming, “If your words add up to nothing, then you’re making a choice.” Isbell’s keen self-awareness has always been a core component of his work, and like the hard-fought sobriety he chronicled in “It Gets Easier,” he doesn’t always have the answers.

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires have spent most of 2020 in their Nashville attic, playing half-improvised cover songs and telling charmingly rambling stories to their webcam. This isn’t how things were supposed to go. Isbell, along with Shires and the rest of his 400 Unit band, had just come out with Reunions, one more album of crowd-pleasing country-rockers and quietly devastating laments. They should be playing big outdoor amphitheaters, where they thrive. But maybe it’s better this way. This way, you can sob to yourself while hearing a wrenching fatherhood song like “Letting You Go” without worrying about anyone else in the crowd seeing you.

On “Reunions”, he is willing to keep pushing forward anyway. Reunions, the seventh studio album from Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit is a powerful and reflective release. Whereas the album was created on the heels of the anxiety caused by commercial and audience expectations, Reunions lacks any notes of trepidation. Rather, Isbell and the 400 Unit revel in strength and collectivity.

That album is fueled by explosive solos and back-and-forths, finding the musicians garnering inspiration in each other’s talents. This sense of unity is also channelled outward. “What’ve I Done to Help” ponders the role of the individual, especially as guilt and hopelessness seem so overpowering. More so, on “Be Afraid” he defends the use of his cultural platform and music to trumpet his political beliefs. For Isbell, the strength he demonstrates now is the result of his struggles. Contending with sobriety, parenthood, and childhood trauma, Isbell delivers his lyrics as a testament affirming that trials often lead to empowerment. The message is universal and a poignant rumination in 2020’s wake.

His winning streak continues. whether solo or with the fantastic 400 unit, Jason Isbell puts out fantastic music.

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