Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

Thursday

SXSW Records

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

Here We Rest (Lightning Rod)

Jason Isbell spent a good deal of 2010 at home in northern Alabama, and Here We Rest reflects that in its stories of the folks of Muscle Shoals and Florence affected by the economic downturn. The guitarist's always been good at such character studies, but perhaps because he really understands the predicament his characters find themselves in, his new tunes really shine. He's become a rocker with a sensitive streak, but here he branches out into country soul, with the Tony Joe White swagger of "Heart on a String," and also into bluegrass, with the mandolin-driven "Tour of Duty." These touches are different from his past work, and there are many more throughout, but it's all equally affecting. Few songwriters today write with Isbell's combination of lyrical economy, deep-seated empathy, and masterstroke axe melodies. (Thu., 11pm, Swan Dive)

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