A live album should represent a live concert by that artist. Jason Isbell’s Live From Alabama does not do that. Having seen 10 plus live Isbell shows, I am a fair judge and this really doesn’t remind me of them too much. Isbell is an impressive performer live and I see the reasoning behind this live album but still feel it is a bit of a misstep.
First of all why the live album makes sense: Isbell is great live and fans want a live album. Also this gives Isbell a chance to get some of his catalog with the Drive-By Truckers under his own name in the record section. The Truckers songs are often performed differently by Isbell solo so it is good to have a recording of that.
The setlist isn’t the greatest. Leaving off “Codeine” is a punishable offense for this album. To a lesser extent, also left off were “The Magician” “Go It Alone” and “Never Gonna Change.” The horn section on Live From Alabama baffles me. I’ve never seen him with a horn section; neither have most of his fans. It drastically changes the song “Goddamn Lonely Love” in an unsatisfactory way and effects other songs too.
Those complaints being heard, there are still strong moments here. The Neil Young cover “Like A Hurricane” is interesting to hear and serves as a highlight. Other high points are one of the better songs from the last 10 years; “Alabama Pines” and the drawn out storytelling of “TVA.” Overall a good record for fans but it could have been so much better.
Key Tracks: “Alabama Pines” “TVA” “Like A Hurricane”