Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s new musical excursion, Reunions, is a wonderful concoction of music and lyrics that Isbell uses to provide insight into the human condition. With his wife Amanda Shires on violin and background vocals, and David Crosby on background vocals on some songs, the band shines on with country-flavored rock anthems that nicely fit into the Americana genre. In this album review, Hazy Eye Music Media’s contributor Rick Jones reviews the alt-country album Reunions released on May 15, 2020. All words by Rick Jones. Thanks Rick!
In the song “Dreamsicle,” he tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy sitting on a porch eating a dreamsicle having to leave his town, his friends on the baseball team, and his school, wondering “Why can’t daddy just come home/Forget what he did wrong/He’s in a hotel all alone/And we need help.”
He laments the plight of only children looking for human connections in the gentle, sweet “Only Children.” Another song, “It Gets Easier,” with lyrics about overcoming alcoholism, drinking one glass of wine and feeling fine, feeling “the cold burn of whiskey down my throat,” and then remembering “Times I forgot a woman’s name/I blacked out behind the wheel/How tight the handcuffs feel/My daughter’s eyes when she’s ashamed,” reveals the sorrow of a man desperately trying to remain sober.
One of the most poignant songs is the finale, “Letting You Go,” which is from the point of view of a father remembering the moment he and his wife brought their newborn baby daughter home from the hospital, how she grew to have the best personality traits of both parents, and how in the present, the father is preparing to give her away as another man’s lovely bride. This last song should bring tears to any father who has loved his daughter and hopes she has made a wise choice to carry her heart.
The songwriting on this album is excellent, and the characters he has created within Reunions, possibly reflecting some of his own attitudes toward his marriage and recent birth of his own child, are easily identifiable. BUY THIS ALBUM.
Be sure to check out the official Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit website for all music, merch, and news. Stream Reunions on Spotify: