Note: This is the second album from Jason Isbell since the singer/songwriter/guitarist left the Drive-By Truckers. Unlike his debut LP Sirens of the Ditch, which features performances and production from members of his former band, 400 Unit includes no Truckers contributors.
Sound: A mix of roots rock, alt country, laid-back blues and southern soul that bounces between mid-tempo grooves, breezy reflections and riffin’ rockers. The instrumentation—including piano, organ, slide and acoustic guitar and horns (on one song)—turns out classy and rich sounds that can occasionally feel a bit conservative. But Jason’s weathered-beyond-his-years vocals always keep things plenty interesting.
Heavy Rotation tracks: “Streetlights”; “Sunstroke”; “Soldiers Get Strange”
Medium Rotation tracks: “However Long”; “Seven-Mile Island”; “Cigarettes and Wine”; “Good”
Recommended: Jason’s debut solo album was patchwork, culled from four years of recording and collaborations with a variety of musicians. As a result, it was promising, but felt disjointed. Now with his new band, the 400 Unit, he’s found more focus. The record came together in two week-long sessions and feels notably more cohesive. Jason’s elite songwriting and melodic sense shine on this solid follow-up.
Grade: A- (Top 20 Albums of 2009 Candidate)