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The 2023 album from Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit tackles issues such as gun violence, the opioid crisis, and women's rights all through Isbell's signature songwriting lens.
Weathervanes is a collection of grown-up songs: Songs about adult love, about change, about the danger of nostalgia and the interrogation of myths, about cruelty and regret and redemption. Life and death songs played for and by grown ass people. Some will make you cry alone in your car and others will make you sing along with thousands of strangers in a big summer pavilion, united in the great miracle of being alive.
A Jason Isbell record always lands like a decoder ring in the ears and hearts of his audience, a soundtrack to his world and magically to theirs, too. Weathervanes carries the same revelatory power.
This is a storyteller at the peak of his craft, observing his fellow wanderers, looking inside and trying to understand, reducing a universe to four minutes. He shrinks life small enough to name the fear and then strip it away, helping his listeners make sense of how two plus two stops equalling four once you reach a certain age - and carry a certain amount of scars.
Jason Isbell has established himself as one of the most respected and celebrated songwriters of his generation. The North Alabama native possesses an incredible penchant for identifying and articulating some of the deepest, yet simplest, human emotions, and turning them into beautiful poetry through song. Isbell sings of the everyday human condition with thoughtful, heartfelt, and sometimes brutal honesty.
The record features the rolling thunder of Isbell's fearsome 400 Unit, who've earned a place in the rock 'n' roll cosmos alongside the greatest backing ensembles, as powerful and essential to the storytelling as The E Street Band or the Wailers.
Isbell broke through in 2013 with the release of Southeastern. His next two albums, Something More Than Free (2015) and The Nashville Sound (2017), won Grammy Awards for Best Americana Album and Best American Roots Song. Isbell's song "Maybe It's Time" was featured in the 2019 reboot of A Star Is Born.
His most recent full-length album, Reunions (2020), is a critically acclaimed collection of ten songs that showcased an artist at the height of his powers and a band fully charged with creativity and confidence. The roots of Weathervanes go back into the isolation of the pandemic and to Isbell's recent time on the set as an actor on Martin Scorsese's film Killers of the Flower Moon.
Weathervanes isn't a 'return to form' for Isbell, as he hasn't fallen off in terms of quality since his breakthrough, Southeastern, released a decade ago. However, the lonely, angered, confused characters that populate Weathervanes find ways to latch on to you and make them harder to shake than any Isbell album since Southeastern. Be it the person who suffered a workplace accident and is now addicted to painkillers on 'King of Oklahoma', the child who got lost in the foster care system after the alluded murder/suicide by his young parents in 'Volunteer', or one of the killers that inhabit the song, 'Cast Iron Skillet', most of the songs on Weathervanes could qualify as short stories, worthy of film adaptations. Add a seven-minute stunning closer ('Miles'), and you've got a record that deserves to be mentioned with Isbell's best.
In some respects, Weathervanes feels like his Born in the U.S.A. - on the surface a brilliantly crafted rock album with anthemic melodies and outstanding performances, but one that also speaks eloquently about the high stakes of American life. It's not as glossy as Born in the U.S.A. and it's built from rootsier materials, but it's every bit as well-made...This LP is a triumph, an outstanding set of songs and performances from someone who has already proved they're one of the strongest, truest voices in American roots rock.
- Double LP
- Produced by Jason Isbell
- Gatefold Jacket
- Death Wish
- King of Oklahoma
- Strawberry Woman
- Middle of the Morning
- Save the World
- If You Insist
- Cast Iron Skillet
- When We Were Close
- Vestavia Hills
- White Beretta
- This Ain't It