Performing Arts - Music | August 30 | 7 p.m. | Hearst Greek Theatre
Jason Isbell and the 400 Units new album, The Nashville Sound, is a beautiful piece of American musicmaking, but watch yourself: it will light a fire under your ass. Youre still breathing, its not too late, Jason sings.
This album is a call, and the songs on it send sparks flying into a culture thats already running so hot the needle on the temperature gauge is bouncing erratically in the red. And while its 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. Its a call to those who wont cower no matter how erratically the world turns, and who arent 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 Isbells 2013 breakthrough, Southeastern, and his double-Grammy-winning follow up, 2015s 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 60s and 70s): they only made sonic moves that their heroes from back in the day couldve made, but simply never did. Its a shrewd approachan honest way to keep the wiz-bang of modern recording technology at arms length, while also leaving the old bag of retro rock n roll tricks un-rummaged. Lyrically, The Nashville Sound is timely. Musically, it is timeless.