Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit

Friday

SXSW Records

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit

(Lightning Rod)

Jason Isbell's second effort since his departure (or whatever it was) from the Drive-by Truckers unveils his new band. The guitarist has dubbed it the 400 Unit, after a psychiatric facility in his hometown of Florence, Ala., a winning metaphor for a rock band if there ever were one. Isbell's always displayed a sharp way with words. Where 2007's Sirens of the Ditch was pieced together from sessions stretched over multiple years, having a working band to back his genre-hopping and lyrical visions definitely works to his advantage here, from the swampy jam of "Seven-Mile Island" and Foo Fighters rip "Good" to the unrefined yet utterly brave Southern rock of "Soldiers Get Strange." The horns and soul on "No Choice in the Matter" mark an interesting new direction, but occasionally Isbell delves too deeply into Ryan Adams introspection mode, and the results are listless. (Fri., Habana Bar Backyard, 11pm.)

***

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