The recently released Live From Alabama is a collection of original cover songs captured live from Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit’s Birmingham performance. With traditional Southern instruments and styles, the album opens with “Tour Of Duty,” written from the perspective of a soldier home from war. A pedal steel effect accompanies the guitar playing that strums along with Jason’s plain and simple vocal parts. The second song, “Decoration Day” starts a slow bluegrass ballad that is broken up with a solo that stays country, but has highs and lows that range all over the scale. It is a well-written climax to the piece; this kind of guitar playing makes these slow-climbing tracks listenable.
The band cover the ‘70s track “Heart On A String” with horns and backing vocalists giving depth to the love song. A solo bridges the start and finish of this song, with a prominent brass section sounding off for the four-minute play time. Downtrodden and depressed lyric writing seems to be the place in which Jason Isbell has found his niche. “Alabama Pines” bops along with a down south, backwoods sort of tempo while Jason Isbell croons in his rough, thick accent about his home. The eleventh number in the set, “The Blue” is exactly what its title states. The country singer’s track here is entirely blues-influenced, once again incorporating pedal steel, and is in mourning for things that artist used to have. The final number of this concert is a Neil Young cover, “Like A Hurricane,” that the band rocks out to with their Southern spin on things. Even the non-country listener can appreciate the sound quality of this live show. Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit stick to their guns, and it seems to be working.
In A Word: Honest