Flyinshoes Review

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JASON ISBELL And The 400 UNIT —the Nashville Sound (South Eastern Records / Thirty Tigers)

http://www.jasonisbell.com

 

Americana singer-songwriter Jason Isbell’s (formerly of the band, Drive-By-Truckers) music is presently at a peak you don’t want him to lose sight of. If a change were to take place it would only be for him to sound even better. On the rocking “Cumberland Gap” he gives the band its head, and though on first hearing I wasn’t too sure I have since taken to it. Big time. The song speaks of the hold of the Cumberland Gap has on people and in dictating lives. It follows the killer tune “Last Of My Kind”, the simplicity and plaintive feel buries itself into ones subconscious as he tells a few stories of how the road of life can be hard. He tackles more than just a few problems on life during the course of the album, and they real truths!  

You can’t help but be impressed by the beauty of his slow paced ballads, as a series of heavenly nuances ensue. Dave Cobb is the producer, and the album was recorded at RCA’s “Nashville Sound” studio. Both Isbell and the producer put their notable experience to good use as a wealth of good stuff to savour spill forth. As in “Tupelo”, “White Man’s World” and, with his wife, fiddle playing vocalist Amanda Shires lending her sweet voice to his “If We Were Vampires”. The song speaks of growing old, and how one of them will inevitably spend some time alone. Since one will leave this world before the other.

 

Going back to “White Man’s World”, here you have a song reflecting on him living in one, and how despite the relatively short history the mould seems to have been made. Gritty ode “Anxiety” is a relentless hard edged piece, and with lyrics and instrumental input stout and unbending it speaks of how it can be hard to live with. “Molotov” is another that has Isbell reflect on (troubled) days past. Remember he has seen some tough times(and lost the tread), and lost his job with the Drive-By-Truckers when he strayed. “Chaos And Clothes” opens like it was something Simon and Garfunkle might have once done, so simple and gentle you have little but acoustic guitar and a coercing rhythm. On picking up the tempo and giving his music and players Derry de Borja (keyboards), Chad Gamble (drums), Jimbo Hart (bass), Sadler Vaden (electric guitar) and Shires (strings, harmony vocals) plus his own electric, acoustic guitar lay down a strong tune. On closing with “Something To Love” he ensures the listener is left with a beautiful sound and pleasing set of story-telling in their ears when the needle lifts to place itself on its place of rest. Not only is the melody beautiful one but also his voice and that of Shires are as near to perfection as you will get. The Nashville Sound is set to be one of my top five albums of the year, and possibly yours too. 

 

                                                      Maurice Hope 

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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