Album of the Week: Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
Jason Isbell just turned 30 this past February, so calling him an old soul might be soft-pedaling things a bit. You just can't be callow and pen a line like "She left me alone with these pills, and the last of my youth." That's from "Cigarettes and Wine," Isbell's ode to a bygone female bartender/mentor and one of a few songs from his band the 400 Unit's self-titled album that makes it clear he respects his elders quite a bit.
There's also "No Choice In the Matter," a wrenching nugget of lost '60s/'70s soul with melancholy horns and bluesy guitar, a lesson in love with a less-than-happy ending told from the weathered point of view of the guy on the next barstool. Exhausted closer "The Last Song I Will Write" can't help but echo "Moonlight Mile" on the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers - both songs finish off albums about the precarious relationship between duty, excess and maturity in bouts of protracted, frustrated guitar-beating. (The piano also takes its fair share of abuse.)
Luckily, those same Stones are also watching over rockers "However Long," "Good" and "Soldiers Get Strange," so there are quite a few kicks to be had here too. As opposed to 2007's solo effort Sirens of the Ditch - which came on the heels of his exit from the Truckers and breakup with his wife, DBT bassist Shonna Tucker - making a record with a band again has to have been good for Isbell. His world-weary romantic persona hasn't changed, but being with brothers in arms sounds like it's reminded him (if only a little) that he's still young enough to have fun.
With Red Cortez, 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, at Walter's on Washington, 4215 Washington, 713-862-2513 or www.superunison.com.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.