Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit


Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit perform Friday, December 21, at Walter's on Washington, 4215 Washington, 713-862-2513. Mitch Vegas is also on the bill.

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If you think ex-Drive By Trucker Jason Isbell's show is going to give you a DBT fix, think again. DBT's gritty, hit-you-in-the-jaw Southern sear is lost on Isbell's recent solo record, Sirens of the Ditch (New West). As he revealed last summer in these very pages, Isbell has no ill will toward his former band, he'd just prefer to be less affiliated with that Southern-rock vibe and now feels more comfortable within that classic Joe Cocker vein. He may have become a purveyor of nonthreatening dad-rock, but the talented guitarist riffs on any number of folk and Americana styles in a completely non-boring way. Tunes such as "Hurricanes and Hand Grenades" position him as a young Lyle Lovett; his relaxed, waltzy delivery makes this a perfect slow-dancing song. These days, Isbell is a much mellower, calmer guy who's getting back to his country roots, and comes off much more sentimental than his former group ever did.

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