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Underwhelming third from ex-Trucker
on 18 April 2011
Clocking in at a smidge under 40 minutes, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit's latest offering is economical to say the least. It is also an album of two halves, starting off extremely promisingly with some of the best songs he has written since leaving the Drive-By Truckers. 'Alabama Pines', 'Go It Alone' and 'Daisy Mae' are all excellent, understated and subtly done, luring the listener into the false hope that this may turn out be Isbell's best yet.
Thereafter, it all becomes a bit underwhelming and predictable, with the second half of the album straining to rise above the accusation of 'filler'. 'Tour Of Duty' rescues things a little at the end, but not by much. Downhome and honest music this may be, competently delivered, but ultimately lacking in the sparkle that marks out Isbell's best material. Without the obvious benefits of bouncing off the Truckers' competetive quality control edge, Here We Rest, lopes and shuffles towards an end that can't come quickly enough to save this album from acute disappointment. Isbell's voice sounds weedy at the best of times; here a distinct lack of punch to the musicianship does it no favours at all.
Three albums in, and Jason Isbell has still produced nothing of consistency and quality to match songs like 'Outfit' and 'When The Well Runs Dry'. If it's any consolation, the album cover features a nice piece of artwork by Browan Lollar, but it's scant consolation for promise unfulfilled. Try the excellent Barn Doors And Concrete Floors from Israel Nash Gripka instead.