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Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit - Live From The Ryman

Coming a year after one of the standout albums of 2017, "The Nashville Sound", "Live At The Ryman" showcases material from that and his two prior albums.
Given that this is Jason Isbell we are talking about, the songs being of the highest quality is a given.

In fact the expectation of high quality might actually hold this album back a little. Whilst it's not an all-time classic live album like  "Live At Leeds" by The Who, or Lucinda Williams' "Live @ The Fillmore", it is 'merely' an excellent record of a very good band and a superb songwriter. For me, and many others that will, and should, be enough.




The performances are excellent; the hard rocking and dynamic "Cumberland Gap" 
along with the impassioned vocal of "Cover Me Up" standing out. Great lead guitar work pours from the fret-board on "Super 8". The easy groove of "Something More Than Free", and relaxed shuffle of "The Life You Chose"; the quality just keeps on coming.




"Flagship" is the only song here that leaves me a little cold. Also on the slight downside, I feel that at times the audience track is too high in the mix. At one point during the aforementioned "Cover Me Up" the cheers almost drown out Isbell himself. The whoops and hollers during the start of one of his best songs, "Elephant" seem a little incongruous given the bleak subject matter of that song. One can hardly blame the audience for enjoying themselves though!

Closing with the achingly beautiful reflection on love and mortality, "If We Were Vampires", this is 60 minutes of prime Isbell and well worth a listen. I love Isbell's songwriting, he has such a way with words, with the tunes to back it up. His contribution to "A Star Is Born", the excellent "Maybe It's Time" hopefully shows there is plenty more to come.



I'll finish with a quote from "If We Were Vampires".

"It's knowing that this can't go on forever
Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone
Maybe we'll get forty years together
But one day I'll be gone
Or one day you'll be gone"

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