‘and the drunks all think we’ve made it’

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – Here We Rest
(Lightning Rod,2011)

Jason Isbell has now released as many albums without the Drive-By Truckers as he did with them.  It has been almost 5 years since I was crushed by the news he was leaving the band.  Jason and Shonna might have been the ones that were going through a divorce, but for fans of DBT it might as well have been our parents.  I don’t think I was alone in thinking it was the end for both the band and Jason‘s young career.  Fortunately we were wrong on both accounts.  It might have been the end of an era, but DBT came back stronger than ever and Sirens of the Ditch proved Isbell wasn’t going anywhere.

Here We Rest is the second release credited to his new band and I have had a very hard time appreciating it.  Positive reviews were flowing across my screen every day and the more I read, the more frustrated I became because I was missing the plot.  Everything sounded muffled and subdued.  I felt like Isbell was sleeping on the record, not unlike how I first felt about The Go-Go Boots.  Then I became bitter.  I was told the Trucker family was broken because they were on different paths…one of these kids was doin’ his own thing. But a few years later it seems they have gone and made very similar albums.  It’s too bad they couldn’t have just done it together!

Then the 5th listen turned into the 15th listen and before I knew it I had spun this record 30 times and I found myself liking it more and more.  In fact, it didn’t hit me until I tried to pick a song for a mixtape I am putting together and I wanted to include the whole first half of the album.

So I know this isn’t much of a review of an album, but I almost feel too close to the subject to write anything unbiased.  So just give this album a shot, in fact give it 20, because I have no clue how Alabama Pines didn’t  grab me on the first listen.  This love song to the recently devastated state is a prime example of why we loved the Truckers in the first place.  What I first read as a ‘muffled and subduedIsbell turned out to be a ‘genius storytellerIsbell muting himself a little so his characters could shine.  Once you realize what this album is all about, the plot reveals itself to be one of the best of the year.

Jason Isbell and The 400 UnitAlabama Pines

Full Reviews:
American Noise
One Thrity BPM
Nine Bullets