Jason Isbell concert review
Jason Isbell concert review – Jason Isbell’s new album is titled The Nashville Sound. During his performance on Sunday night at the Ohio Theatre, Jason Isbell, the songwriter proved himself to be much more than a country musician.
Isbell and the 400 Unit put on an igneous rock show. Isbell who is just 38, performed like a seasoned professional, probably as he was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist since his teens mentored by musician David Hood. Isbell was also the part of the Drive-By Truckers from 2001-2007 which was co-founded by Hood’s son, Patterson.
Few of Isbell’s Drive on Sunday night included songs by Truckers tunes — “Decoration Day,” the title track of the DBT’s 2003 album, and “Never Gonna Change,” off 2004 album The Dirty South, closing song. But ever since Isbell’s breakout album in 2013, Southeastern, which brought him popularity through critical acclaim and also several Americana Music Awards. Thus, Jason Isbell has been known more for his solo material.
Isbell is an absolute beast on rhythm and lead guitar, and his dusky voice filled the Ohio Theatre leaving the audience completely amazed.
The detailed imagery in his story songs and vulnerable confessionals cut through in powerful ways, especially during quieter, acoustic-driven songs like
Isbell has a unique way of presenting his songs in very powerful ways. The “Speed Trap Town,” off the 2015 album had an imagery story by Isbell. Many a time few lines go unnoticed while recording; however, those are covered during his live performance. Isbell sings “How long can they keep you in the ICU? / Veins through the skin like a faded tattoo,” as the song’s main character lingers in the hospital with his ailing father, thinking whether to hit the road and leave everything behind.
By the end of the song, Isbell lets you know what the son ultimately decided, and Isbell does it by showing, not telling:
“The road got blurry when the sun came up, So I slept a couple hours in the pickup truck, Drank a cup of coffee by an Indian mound, A thousand miles away from that speed trap town″
Isbell’s approach to songwriting challenges assumptions and tweaks establishments are empathetic and with progressive-thinking. In “White Man’s World,” Isbell works through the implications of “living on a white man’s street” with “the bones of the red man under my feet.” He sings “The highway runs through their burial grounds, past the oceans of cotton,” ultimately finding hope and faith within “the fire in my little girl’s eyes.”
Amanda Shires, the fiddle player, and songwriter, who also charmed the crowd with a chatty opening set. And Isbell seemed to sing one of the greatest songs from his catalog “Cover Me Up” during Southeasternstandout, directly to Shires.
“I sobered up, and I swore off that stuff forever this time,”
The crowd whooped and hollered listening to this, celebrating his sobriety along with him. The Ohio Theatre audience rose for a deserved mid-set standing ovation as the song drew to a close. It was the sound to embrace.