Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit (from the album Live from The Ryman available on Southeastern Records)
In “I Hope the High Road” Jason Isbell sings out a wish for those within hearing range that the song will lead listeners ‘to a world you want to live in’. For the hour of listening provided Live at the Ryman, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit use the allotted time of their latest release put on stage the world’s greatest Rock ’n’ Roll band for an at-home set, tosses barbs at racial politics in “White Man’s World”, casting the harsh stage light of reality into the gentle strains of “Elephant”, and filling in photobook memories with “24 Frames”. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit point out spots on the map from the Ryman stage as their set includes air travel with “Flying Over Water” while the band barrels through small towns with “Cumberland Gap”. Two intimate songs from the life of Jason Isbell and his wife, 400 Unit fiddle player, Amanda Shires, appear on album together for the first time in Live at The Ryman. An open love letter from Jason to Amanda gets a bombastic treatment from the band in “Cover Me Up” while the album exiting on closing track as the couple exits the face their own mortality as two in “If We Were Vampires”.
Live from the Ryman was mostly collected from the Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit six-night stand at the Mother Church of Country Music in 2017. The run marked fourteen sold-out shows at the Ryman Auditorium for the band from 2014 through 2017, with the total rounding off at twenty shows with their recent six-days at The Ryman in October of 2018. Live from The Ryman brings Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit back to the stage with an encore of past shows, putting the songs on repeat with a set of thirteen live versions of cuts from their three recent releases, Southeastern (2013), Something More Than Free (2015), The Nashville Sound (2017). The happiness of family and career success give Jason Isbell’s gratitude wings in past memories with “The Life You Choose” as The 400 Unit reenact diary pages from the ‘old days’ touring in “Super 8”.
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