CD Review: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit — Here We Rest; Playing The EARL, April 14 and Rock and Roll Hotel, May 20

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Here We Rest
Lightning Rod Records

By Eric Chavez

For many artists, the studio is where are the magic happens. Productions are created, lyrics are written, and classics are made. Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell took another road, writing and recording a majority of the material for his latest effort Here We Rest in his home. Along with his band The 400 Unit, Jason Isbell has created an extremely intimate record for their fans and newbies to listen to and enjoy.

Mind you, this album is not made for the top 10 on iTunes right now. Taking a glance at the charts, popular music is more electronica than anything else, and the sound Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit have created for themselves is much too organic for what is en vogue right now, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable. Jason and his crew create a charming, warm, heartfelt atmosphere that captures the listener’s attention throughout. Here We Rest is not just a collection of songs, but an actual album, a journey in itself.

“Save It For Sunday” has the feeling of of a lazy Sunday afternoon, watching the clouds roll by as the sun sets in the distance, while “The Ballad of Nobeard” kicks things up for a brief moment with some Celtic flavor.

While the band never seems to make anything remotely commercial (which is a good thing) one cannot help but feel that “Heart on a String” would be perfect for a radio single. Perhaps the band’s strongest track, well, ever, “Alabama Pines” brings the artist back to his homeland. The track seems like something you have heard before, while at the same time shows the unique sound of the band, making you crave more of the set.

“We’ve Met” has a little dirty Southern rock in the mix, which goes along with the fusion of soft rock, folk, country-western. The album takes on two forms really, a collection of songs to sing alone to, something of a songwriters collection, and the other form being that a collection of songs that beg to be performed live in front of thousands of fans screaming along with every word.

There’s something beautiful and pure about Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s new album. Think of their music like a slow walk down a dusty road. Here We Rest shows that the band doesn’t much resting, for the effort into this LP shows calm energy and unpretentious artistry.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit play The EARL on April 14…

… and Rock and Roll Hotel, May 20.

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