Skip to main content

Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 2 - "The Nashville Sound" by Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

2017 produced this masterpiece from the former Drive-By Trucker. From the moment it fades in with the elegiac "Last of My Kind"to the last notes of "Something to Love" this is solid gold. Much like Gary Louris on my number five choice, the level of craft in these songs is phenomenal. Isbell's songs are so good I'd actually view him as a songwriter first and performer second. I've said many times over the years that there are two types of music fan, those who love Gram Parsons and those who haven't found him yet. Whilst I'm not comparing Isbell to Parsons as a singer, (who sits atop my list of favourite singers of all time), in terms of discerning music fans I feel the same criteria applies. If someone likes good music and they somehow haven't come across the Alabaman yet, then hand them this album or Southeastern and they will be smitten.
The whole album is practically a highlight reel, with only "Chaos and Clothes" and the aforementioned closer "Something to Love" falling short of a 10/10 rating. 

After "Last of My Kind" has eased us in "Cumberland Gap" kicks it up a gear and rocks hard.
"Tupelo" and "Molotov" sounds like two of the best songs the Eagles never wrote whilst the self-examination of "White Man's World" avoids preaching by turning the spotlight inward as well as outward.
"If We Were Vampires" maybe one of the most beautiful and original meditations on love and ageing.
"Anxeity" rocks  us hard again, a companion piece to "Flying Over Water" to me. I also love the way it fakes out before building back up to an epic finish.

"Hope The High Road" is another great rocker and to be honest would work well as the closer, but overall you cannot miss with this album, and given my effusive praise you might be wondering why this isn't the best album of the last decade. Well, there is one that climbs even higher, but that should not be taken as a slight on this superb work. Here's hoping upcoming new release, "Reunions" can hit the same heights.
"I know you're tired and you ain't sleeping well. Uninspired and likely mad as hell, but wherever you are I hope the high road leads you home again........"

Comments

Popular Posts

Eraserland by Strand Of Oaks - Album Review

A new album from Tim Showalter which, barring a final misstep, hits all the Americana, (and more), marks. This album is heartfelt, sleazy, uplifting, classic and referential all at the same time whilst still pointing forwards. The beginning is inauspicious. "Weird Ways" starts out like a standard Ryan Adams ballad, but takes off halfway through in a way that reveals the pedigree of the other musicians on the album. After hearing this track I thought it sounded like the aforementioned Mr Adams playing with My Morning Jacket(MMJ). The reverb drenched sound kept rearing its head and a little research revealed that, minus main man Jim James, they were the backing musicians on the album . No wonder I kept hearing them! As a band who has produced much that I like this was a good thing.  After "Weird Ways" heads for the stars we stay there with "Hyperspace Blues" which is one for fans of Jason Pierce's Spiritualized, and sounds just as a song w

October New Music - Rockin' The Suburbs

Be sure to listen to the latest episode, 736, of Rockin' The Suburbs podcast to hear me talk about some of the new songs I enjoyed in October. You can listen here or via your usual podcast provider. The songs I talk about, along with a little cricket, NFL & rugby are: "Run Away" by Lightning Dust "In Good Faith" by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy "Hard Times" by Whyte Horses featuring John Grant "Favourite Boy" by Half Moon Run "In The Air Tonight" by Lucy Dacus Be sure to listen every day...........

Josh Rouse - Love In The Modern Age Review

I picked up Josh Rouse's latest album at the show reviewed earlier , purely on the strength of the new songs he'd debuted that night. Firstly, the songs are almost uniformly great, and whilst some might complain at only 9 tracks on an album, less is sometimes more. "Leave 'em wanting more" is a good policy. I find it hard to accept, for example, that The Beatles "White Album", to pick a famous example, wouldn't have been improved by being cut to a single disc. A topic for another day perhaps? Back to matters in hand. The album starts out with what is my favourite track from the set, "Salton Sea" . It sets out the album's pop stylings and productio n, gated snare and prominent synths, occasional vocoder flourishes, etc. that continue throughout the album. With a nice build at the end to some instrumental guitar, it is a great start.  The tunes keep coming, with the title track , "Businessman" , and "Women And The

Hello Sunshine by Bruce Springsteen - New Song Review

After the Broadway experience comes a new song, and m y initial thoughts upon hearing it were not about this track specifically, but what it means for the upcoming "Western Stars" album in June. As Bruce has said, this is a different type of album, not a rocker but a 'return to sweeping, cinematic orchestral arrangements'.  My hope is that we are going to get Bruce's version of "Nashville Skyline", as the track has a laid back, country feel, with a rhythm that immediately evokes "Everybody's Talkin' ".  Another one of his early influences, the great Roy Orbison, also shines through, and as a defender of "Outlaw Pete" from "Magic", (more on that here ), this can only be a good thing. His vocal has a country tinge and the pedal steel and strings complete the image.  Given his battles with depression, documented in his autobiography, the lines about "being too fond of the blues" and "loving t

Songs To Die To - Part 3

Continuing a series about songs death and dying.  These are not necessarily songs that talk about the process of dying, rather as the title suggests, songs that I could imagine listening to on my death bed, or taking as consolation during or after a funeral.  Morbid? I think not, as death is part of life. If we all talked about it a little more, maybe we'd cope with it better. No 1: featuring "Land Of Hope & Dreams" by Bruce Springsteen here No 2: featuring "Look On Down From The Bridge" by Mazzy Star here With that said here's my next choice. No 3: Gonna Be A Darkness - The Jayhawks From their superb collection of songs that main man Gary Louris wrote with other artists, (full review here ), comes this gem co-written with Jakob Dylan. I love the extended musical introduction, starting with the mandolin, building with the bass and piano.It sets a lovely relaxed groove that hints at the sadness to come. Louris and drummer Tim O'Rea

A Musical Epiphany: Bruce Springsteen

Have you ever struggled to understand the appeal of an artist?  In the case of Bruce Springsteen I was in this camp until August 2002. I appreciated that he was a significant figure in music, and enjoyed some of his hits, "Born To Run" and "Thunder Road" in particular. "Born To Run" and "Greatest Hits" were the only albums of his I owned, and found the almost religious fervour of his most passionate devotees baffling. All that changed in early August 2002 when on the basis of many positive reviews at the time I bought his just released, (9/11 addressing & E-Street Band reuniting), album "The Rising". I was walking the dog, listening on headphones, and had found the first 10 tracks, enjoyable, if not spectacular.  Track 11,   "Mary's Place" , changed all that. The old time gospel hall feel with it's saxophone licks caught my attention. I wasn't prepared for what happened at 3:34 on "...drop the needl

Great British Beer Festival: Day 2

Day two is done, and more excellent beers consumed. 1. Krausened Lager, Budweiser Budvar 4% After the Tankove Pivo being my beer of the day yesterday,  hopes were high for the Krausened. An unfiltered and unpasteurised lager. Not quite up there with the tank beer, but still very refreshing. A slight aftertaste that wasn't there on the Tankove, and overall I preferred the temperature controlled option. A good start though. 2. Cinnamon Porter, Boulder Beer Company 5.9% A lovely Porter, the cinnamon being very subtle. Sweet and smooth, I'd happily return to this. 3. Kölsch, Cölner Hofbräu Früh 4.8% Clean, crisp and clear with a softness on the tongue that surprises. Could easily go a few pints of this on a hot summer's day. 4. Make America Juicy Again, Heretic Brewing Company 6.5% A New England IPA, hazy and fruity as you'd expect from this style, but more tart and lacking the rich smoothness of other NEIPAs I've had. 5. Salted Caramel Lucaria, Thornbridge 4.