Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit

Guitar ace Jason Isbell packed The Lyric in Blacksburg recently with his fine band The 400 Unit. Isbell’s album Southeastern is getting huge media play and deservedly so. He has a compelling story. A rocker with Drive By Truckers for years. Partied hard and eventually had too much. He met a beautiful woman, a fiddle player at that, and fell in love. She held him to his promises. He went to rehab and started life anew.

Then you see him. He looks like a young rockabilly from the 50’s, a sweet face with a modern edge. And there is an edge in his music. It’s loud, gritty and honest as hell with a ripping electric guitar added for good measure. He’s every bit a rocker but sometimes he’s a man who looks forward while singing of the past.

He and the 400 Unit played several electric songs, including Tour of Duty, Decoration Day and Alabama Pines. Outfit is a fan favorite about his father’s advice. Most of the show featured songs he wrote himself.

Midway through he broke out his Martin acoustic and enveloped the room. His songs are real, raw and close to the bone. His voice is a powerful tenor. Live Oak, Different Days, and the painful Elephant are all from the Southeastern album. Cover Me Up is just beautiful.

The show wrapped up with a Super 8 encore, which displays his songwriting style: honest, somewhat shocking but completely relatable.

Super 8
Don’t want to die in a Super 8 Motel
Just because somebody’s evening didn’t go so well
If I ever get back to Bristol
I’m better off sleeping in the county jail
Don’t want to die in a Super 8 Motel

Buy Southeastern to help you bide the time until you can get to a show to hear his amazing voice.

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