Album Review: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound

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Jason Isbell releasing an album called “The Nashville Sound” is about as ironic as Florida Georgia Line releasing a George Jones tribute album. It is both critical of US society and makes a mockery of the music that is generally released from music row.

“Cumberland Gap” and “Hope From The High Road” were pre-releases, giving fans a glimpse of a return to Jason’s rock ‘n’ roll roots, but this record is much more than that. Jason is the best songwriter of our generation, and he shows it on songs like “If We Were Vampires”, which explores relationships and the fact that they are ultimately doomed. Whilst this is very dark, it is also truth that can only be told by the best of writers, and the sweet acoustic picking, and gorgeous harmonies with wife Amanda Shires portray a comfortable acceptance that death is a way of life, and end is inevitable, whether in relationships or in life.

“White Man’s World” is by far the most political song on the record. Tackling sexism and racism head-on, this is a very important song. For me the most potent lyric is; “Under our roof is a baby girl/ Thought this world would be hers one day/ But her momma knew better”. The whole song is a message, serving modern society a dose of realism. Whilst some music fans may decry a slightly controversial song and artists sticking their noses where they don’t belong, we have seen musicians writing about politic for as long as they have been around, from Billie Holiday, to Bob Dylan, to Bruce Springsteen. Jason Isbell continues this fine tradition, and if some feathers need ruffling to get the point across, he’s happy to do it, and that’s what happens in “White Man’s World”.

The record as a whole is quite different from what we have seen from “Southeastern” and “Something More Than Free” in that Jason is singing about things other than his demons. He is happy; has a wife and daughter, but America is burning. However, he very much has a statement to make, with the more rock ‘n’roll nature of the record giving rise to big songs like “Molotov” which sonically describe the rebellion against the system that has made society the way it is.

This is a great record. If you love songwriting you’ll like it. But if you have heard of Isbell and are reading this then you probably will already love it. This is proper music and it is worth your time and money. Jason is the best songwriter of our generation, pay attention.

  Track List
  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. Chaos And Clothes
  9. Hope The High Road
  10. Something To Love

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1st February, 1979


Green Hill, AL


About the Author


I listen to music of all genres, including most of the sub-genres within country. I tend to focus on alt-country/Americana, but have a few loves within more mainstream circles. I am almost certainly the world's biggest Lee Ann Womack and Chris Stapleton fan, but my love of Aubrey Sellers, Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson is also the stuff of legend.