Jason Isbell has watched his career simply skyrocket since that day he split from the Drive-By Truckers. Now he finds himself with more success than that band all together. He is making great sounding records in big studios, is a revered songwriter rubbing shoulders with John Prine and Willie Nelson and is winning Grammys.
He doesn’t put together story songs from the South so much any more, instead he is examining sobriety and his place among his peers. “The Nashville Sound” is not his best record but it is in no way a disappointment. On “Last of My Kind” he unfurls a John Prine song that Prine never got around to writing (likely something Isbell has always strived for.) He includes a couple more rockers here than his last couple releases in “Cumberland Gap” “Anxiety” and the excellent single “Hope the High Road.” He writes an all time classic love song with “If We Were Vampires” that is sure to be one of the endearing songs of his career and rightfully so. Isbell writes lyrics a little more straight forward than in the past here too. “Anxiety” is a good jam but it seems not as clever as Isbell can be and on “White Man’s World” the guilt of being white gets to him and it is possibly one of the worst songs he has put on a album in his career. Just listen to the lyrical layers on “Chaos and Clothes” if you want to hear how great Isbell’s writing is.
If you wanted Isbell to rock, you’ve got it here for the most part. It’s nice to hear those guitars blast again a bit, something many fans had been missing. This record is far from perfect but it another great resume piece.
Key Tracks: “Hope The High Road” “If We Were Vampires” “Chaos and Clothes”