Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit - Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. The result is that, in both content and form, The 400 Unit is an unapologetically Southern album, and the lived-in authenticity of its performances, masterful songwriting, and fierce intelligence also make it one of the finest albums of what has already been a strong year for popular music.
  2. 80
    This is best thought of as ‘country soul’. Isbell’s words, in style and content, are old-school tears-in-the-beer laments, deftly lightened by exquisite deadpan payoffs.
  3. Just barely out of his twenties, he writes with the well-worn weariness of someone twice his age, but Isbell's youth nevertheless breathes energy into a formula that's been revisited by many Southern-born songwriters before.
  4. 80
    With Drive-By Truckers, singer-guitarist Jason Isbell learned to embrace some of those [Southern rock] cliches; on his gritty, vibrant second solo album, he begins to transcend them.
  5. A tight collection fueled by glints of the rock, soul and country that came out of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., in the '60s and '70s.
  6. Many of the songs on Isbell's sophomore release don't necessarily aim for (or achieve) such profundity, yet they still compel through sheer verve and Isbell's unwillingness to let an unhip sound or idea discourage him.
  7. 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.
  8. The 400 Unit--named for a mental facility in Isbell’s current hometown of Florence, Ala.--lays out blistering riffs on 'Good' and 'However Long,' but slower songs like the maudlin 'Cigarettes and Wine' and the zitar- and horns-laden 'No Choice in the Matter' are overlong and languid, lacking energy and urgency.
  9. 60
    Isbell’s recitation--defiantly unexciting in its averageness--doesn’t help. But the thing is, the guy can really write.
  10. With his latest band, the 400 Unit, the former Drive-By Truckers guitarist brings new textures to tracks like the percussion-heavy swamp rock of 'Seven-Mile Island' and vintage-sounding Southern soul of 'No Choice in the Matter.'
  11. There's no shortage of variety, but there's a slight feeling of colourlessness about it, a sense that none of the 11 tracks quite have the bit of magic that lifts a good album to dizzy heights.
  12. The Americana is first-class, be it on crunchy, boozy romps with stinging solos or the slow-burning acoustic fare, but this batch of tunes proves far less memorable.
  13. It’s just that, based on Isbell’s track record, it’s hard not to have an empty, unsatisfied feeling when listening to the rote Americana-lite he’s now turning out.
  14. On this new self-titled record, Jason Isbell and his band the 400 Unit sound like they’re still finding their legs.

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