There’s nothing like a 400 Unit show… [Jason] Isbell’s fans are among music’s most ardent. They listen to these songs for months and months on their own, and that momentum rolls them right up to the doors at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, or the Beacon Theatre in New York or the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta. And when the band kicks in, they are ecstatic. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll show that feels like fellowship.
Which begs a question: Why do Jason’s songs strike us so deeply? What makes this music of the soul?
The answer has to do with Jason’s authenticity, his intellect, his rootedness in both tradition (see: the childhood in Green Hill, Alabama, near Muscle Shoals, where he grew up picking and singing…) as well as modernity (see: Jason singing about anxiety, or his complicated relationship to his iPhone).
Simply put, Jason has a gift for taking big, messy human experiences and compressing them into little combustible packages made of rhythm, melody and madly efficient language. The songs are full of little hooks – it could be guitar line that catches one listener, or a quick lyric that strikes to the heart of another – and an act of transference takes place. The stories Jason tells become our own. The music is coming not from Jason and the band, but from within us.
Rob Aldridge & The Proponents will open.