The eponymous follow-up to Isbell’s brilliant Sirens of the Ditch is probably not what most people expected. The intimacy and raw vulnerability that Isbell evoked with the music on his debut has evolved into a solid, more collaborative effort. Hence, he is crediting his back-up band on this one.
However, Isbell still writes the lyrics; therefore, the blunt, downhearted subject matter remains here. The record kicks off with “Seven Mile Island,” which sounds like a more ominous version of “Sympathy for the Devil” minus the Stones’ sarcastic snarl. “Cigarettes and Wine” is a gem as Isbell tells of a damaging relationship with a self-destructive woman. Don’t expect Truckers light. Isbell has officially moved on. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit play March 13 at Headliners.