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Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Reunions (2020) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Reunions (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 41:10 minutes | 871 MB | Genre: Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Southeastern Records

“Thought I was alone in the world,” Jason Isbell sings in the first lines of the swirling seven-minute prog-roots rocker “What’ve I Done to Help,” before adding, “until my memories gathered ’round me in the night.”

There’s a reason Isbell chose to open Reunions, his seventh album, with the image of someone up late alone, plagued and comforted by the past. In addition to being his most crisply produced, sleek recording yet, Isbell’s latest is also his most haunted and ruminative (the word “ghost’ appears no less than five times). As such, Reunions feels meaningfully, if subtly, removed from the trilogy of post-sobriety records the Nashville-via-North Alabama songwriter has written over the past decade.

Those LPs, 2013’s Southeastern, 2015’s Something More Than Free, and 2017’s The Nashville Sound, told a moving story about Isbell’s emergence as a husband, father, and voice of moral consciousness in the modern South. Reunions, his fourth effort with producer Dave Cobb, is the songwriter’s first collection that feels like a response to, and perhaps even a gentle tinkering with, that very image.

Reunions arrives a month after the death of John Prine — a mentor of Jason Isbell, who does his memory proud. You hear inspiration in the smart, heartfelt lyrics, some of the best of Isbell’s Americana career. The wistful “Dreamsicle” evokes how divorce colors childhood (“new sneakers on the high school court and you swore you’d be there”), and Isbell has said he’s particularly proud of “Running With Our Eyes Closed”: “It took forever to get you to trust me/Like I was feeding a bird from my hand.” And while Isbell’s voice is singular — the way his Alabama accent shapes the vowels of “demo tape” on “Only Children” is pure Southern Comfort — there are touchstones both obvious (the noir, Mark Knopfler-like guitar on the terrific “Overseas”) and surprising: a Killers echo on “What’ve I Done to Help” and “It Gets Easier,” about the realities of sobriety. Amanda Shires (Isbell’s wife) again lends fiddle and harmony. With its appealing ’80s college rock vibe, “Be Afraid” sounds lifted from her great album To The Sunset; it’s one of the most fun inspired takes on an album full of them. – Shelly Ridenour


1. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – What’ve I Done to Help
2. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Dreamsicle
3. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Only Children
4. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Overseas
5. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Running with Our Eyes Closed
6. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – River
7. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Be Afraid
8. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – St. Peter’s Autograph
9. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – It Gets Easier
10. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Letting You Go


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