Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Crowd favourite Jason Isbell returns to Bluesfest in 2018 with his brand new album ‘The Nashville Sound’.
This album is a call, and the songs on it send sparks flying into a culture that’s already running so hot the needle on the temperature gauge is bouncing erratically in the red. And while it’s understandable that, in this moment, some people want their radio to help them drift away, this finely calibrated set of ten songs is aimed right between the clear eyes of people who prefer to stay present and awake. It’s a call to those who won't cower no matter how erratically the world turns, and who aren’t afraid of what looks back when they look in the mirror. Bruce Springsteen did that. Neil Young did that. Jason Isbell does that.
As with Isbell’s 2013 breakthrough, Southeastern, and his double-Grammy-winning follow up, 2015’s Something More Than Free, ‘The Nashville Sound’ was produced by Dave Cobb. Isbell says that he and Cobb created a simple litmus test for the decisions they made in the two weeks they spent at RCA Studios (which was known as “The home of the Nashville Sound” back in the ’60’s and ’70s): they only made sonic moves that their heroes from back in the day could’ve made, but simply never did. It’s a shrewd approach—an honest way to keep the wiz-bang of modern recording technology at arm’s length, while also leaving the old bag of retro rock ’n’ roll tricks un-rummaged.
Jason, it seems, after years grinding the rail that separates terra firma from the brink, has put in the sweat equity it takes to hug it out with his demons and fill his life with meaning, bright and clean. If that sounds good to you, this album lights the path. Bluesfest welcomes back the wordsmith with open arms.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit are playing Bluesfest on Thursday 29th and Saturday 31st of March, 2018.