Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, 'Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit' (Lightning Rod)

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Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
Critical Mass
Label: Lightning Rod

by David Peisner

Southern rock is a minefield of rebel flags, drinking songs, and dudes yelling "Free Bird!" With Drive-By Truckers, singer-guitarist Jason Isbell learned to embrace some of those clichés; on his gritty, vibrant second solo album, he begins to transcend them. "However Long" personalizes working-class disaffection into a defiant anthem; stormy rocker "Soldiers Get Strange" is almost certainly the best tune ever written about post-traumatic stress disorder; and multiple tales of warm, lonely barrooms and the warm, lonely relationships they breed uncover new truths while traversing well-trod emotional terrain.

Listen: "Seven-Mile Island" (DOWNLOAD MP3)

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