Monday, January 14, 2013
From the Shelf: Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - "Live from Alabama" (2012)
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Live From Alabama
Lightening Rod Records
It starts in a milling confusion from the moment you enter the door. The people crowded around you are merely shadows with drinks in their hands. On the stage the guitars are lined up like soldiers at attention while the drum kits waits like a bouncer baring the exit. In a moment something changes. A wave of unspoken awareness takes hold of the crowd and all the shadows turn and move to the base of the stage. The club grows darker and the stage lights build to a blinding white. As your eyes struggle to adjust you notice the commotion from off stage as the band members begin to file out.
Your eyes closed, you can almost put yourself there listening to Live From Alabama the latest record by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unite.Complied from two Alabama shows played back in August this record captures the perfect concert experience. As you would hope all the fan favorites are here from "Outfit" and "Decoration Day" from his Drive-By Trucker days to the award winning "Alabama Pines" from his latest album. Touched by the sweetness of the live treatment, these classics are given new life, making you fall in love with them all over again. With extended guitar fills and the soulful horns that take them to a new level, this recording has captured a tightly woven band playing at the height of their skills.
As with his studio recordings, Live From Alabama makes it easy to focus on Isbell's amazing songwriter.The honesty of his lyrical poetry is potent with the uncomplicated struggle of the working class heroes of this great country of ours. Though unlike the studio recordings, this album is a potent reminder that first and for most in his soul of souls, Jason Isbell is a guitarist. A fact made clear on nearly every track.
From beginning to end this album is flawless and one of the best live records I've heard in years. If you've ever gotten the chance to see Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit live you certainly won't be disappointed.