On 9th June, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit released their first album of original material since 2020’s Reunions. Weathervanes is advertised as an album of grown-up songs, and it doesn’t disappoint.
The 13-track record starts with hard-hitting Death Wish. This song is about being in love with someone who has severe depression, and Isbell doesn’t pull his punches. Some might say it’s a rather heavy subject for an opening track, but it fits with the album, and is what you should expect from Isbell.
The second track is no less heavy, being about the opioid crisis. It uses the first person to talk about the impact on a man’s life. If that isn’t heavy enough for you, Save The World talks about school shootings, with reference to Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas (obvious to anybody who is aware of the response to this tragic event).
No matter the topic, this album delivers. There’s plenty to sing along to, plenty to make you think and – although it may take a listen or two to get it – you’ll soon have the album on repeat.
There are hints of Isbell’s previous albums in many of the songs – which probably goes without saying – great harmonies with Amanda Shires, some equally impressive guitar riffs, and the album ends with the very The Who-esque Miles. The accordion in Cast Iron Skillet is a great touch.
The songs that had this reviewer singing loudly and left them with earworms are Middle of the Morning, When We Were Close, and This Ain’t It. Make sure you give the second half of the album as much attention as the first – you won’t regret it.
If you like Jason Isbell’s previous records, this one is a must. If you’re new to him and are a fan of music with an americana feel, great musicians, and lyrics that mean something, it’s worth checking out. One for fans of Gretchen Peters, Margo Price, Lucinda Williams, and Steve Earle.
Weathervanes is out now.