Band: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 27, with doors at 7 p.m.
Venue: Saenger Theatre, 6 S. Joachim St., www.mobilesaenger.com
Tickets: $31-$47, available through Ticketmaster
Ten years ago, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Jason Isbell traded a spot in the Drive-By Truckers’ lineup for a solo career. In those early days, Isbell brought his original material to a small crowd at Callaghan’s. The first show had such an impact on Isbell that he has made Mobile a regular stop on his tour itinerary.
Isbell admits his local fans are the main reason he returns to the Azalea City time after time. In return, a legion of Mobilians flock to his stage to hear their favorite tunes as well as his latest compositions.
“They’ve [Mobilians] always treated us well,” Isbell said. “They’re good audiences and like to have a good time. They seemed to have always appreciated the music that we’re playing, even earlier than other towns.”
For this visit, Isbell will be entertaining the crowd with material from his latest album, “The Nashville Sound.” The album lives up to its name, with a tracklist that serves as a musical interpretation of Nashville’s versatile contemporary music scene.
While his Southern roots and alt. country style are evident throughout the record, Isbell has given this album a definite rock edge his fans didn’t heard on his earlier releases. However, he says this inclusion of rock was not intentional.
For Isbell, songwriting is a natural movement that can take his music into numerous unplanned directions. Even so, he will be the first to tell you he’s been having fun playing “louder and faster” songs.
“I learned a few years ago that the way I work best is just writing the best songs that I can and try to record them in a way that sounds natural,” Isbell said. “For this record, I just happened to have more rockers than I’ve had in the past. It’s good, and it makes it easier to write out a live set.”
“The Nashville Sound” is also the first album to feature his backing band, The 400 Unit, since 2011’s “Here We Rest.” Isbell says including this group of musicians completed the album’s sound. Without The 400 Unit, he felt the tracks wouldn’t come fully to life. Isbell says The 400 Unit’s musical proficiency played a major role in laying down the album tracks over a mere two weeks.
“It’s the fact that the guys in the band are really good players,” Isbell said. “It doesn’t take them a long time to learn how to play a song. After a couple of passes, everybody pretty much has it down.”
Isbell says his Mobile crowd will experience the live interpretation of most of the album. Azalea City fans might get the chance to hear “Anxiety.” Isbell wrote this one with his wife, Amanda Shires, and it details their individual perceptions of anxiety.
Isbell’s setlist might also include “White Man’s World.” This socially conscious track details Isbell’s realization that being born white in America is like “winning the lottery” when it comes to opportunities. No matter what tracks he includes from “The Nashville Sound,” Isbell is confident his local fans will be pleased.
“They’ve [audiences] been singing along with these like the old songs,” Isbell said. “That’s a really great thing. It makes me happy and not worry about how things are going and have a good time. I think if I’m having fun, then the audience will too.”
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