Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit | Here We Rest

Lightning Rod (2011)
By ZETH LUNDY  |  April 13, 2011
3.5 3.5 Stars

Isbell main
Jason Isbell's stint as the Drive-By Truckers' third axman/singer-songwriter was brief but revelatory: dude was a veritable outta-nowhere sensation who sounded as if he'd been road-tripping in bands of that caliber for decades. Both his songs and his voice served as slick complements to his bandmates' coarser æsthetic, which for six years and three albums gave the group greater depth of character. It's taken Isbell three albums to find his comfortable post-Truckers solo-artist groove, and on Here We Rest, he settles in quite nicely. His songwriting is dependable as always, though his narratives are now marked by a kind of mainstream suave. From the aching shuffle of "Alabama Pines" and the countrified "Codeine" to the sturdy rock of "Go It Alone" and the rumble-tumble of "Never Could Believe," Isbell's go-to existential themes are served up easy. And his voice, once a wise-beyond-its-years baritone, is now smoother, older yet less weathered. This, of course, means he's man enough to tackle fellow Alabamian Candi Staton's classic 1970 jam "Heart on a String," a choice that allows the 400 Unit to flex their Muscle Shoals soul muscles. Which is to say: who needs revelatory when you can have comfort?

JASON ISBELL + HAYES CARLL WITH SHOVELS & ROPE | Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave, Allston | April 23 @ 8 pm | $13 | 617.779.0140
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