Alabama natives Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit are set to release their sophomore album, Here We Rest, on April 12. Isbell, who grew up in a family where nearly everyone was a musician, joined the rock band Drive-By Truckers in 2001, before leaving in 2007 to focus on his solo work. He is now the primary singer, songwriter and guitarist for this relatively new country/rock band. Generally slow and emotional, the album takes you on a journey while hearing Isbell’s clear vocals.
With a steady beat and nice chorus, “Alabama Pines,” the first track, is probably the catchiest one. The pace picks up a bit on “Go It Alone.” Jason sings brilliantly while describing what he’s lost and what he’s left behind in the past, but the instruments complete the song, as the drums and guitars sound great together when the vocals stop. The CD gets much more country on “Codeine,” as the violin and harmonicas break out and is similar to the bluesy title “Never Could Believe,” in which Derry DeBorja’s keyboards come alive.
The slowest song, “Daisy Mae” is a good acoustic piece, yet is strangely followed by “The Ballad Of Nobeard,” a 27-second instrumental which seems like a filler at a weird time on the disc. The 11th and closing track is the country-driven “Tour Of Duty.”
It’s not a bad album, but it’s far from a great one. There are a few memorable songs, but others need some improvement.