Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – “Be Afraid”

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – “Be Afraid”

13 years ago, Jason Isbell quit the Drive-By Truckers to go solo. It worked out. Over the past decade, Isbell has become arguably the biggest star in slightly-left-of-center country music, and he’s left a whole lot of absolutely devastating songs behind him. Isbell’s last album The Nashville Sound, recorded with his band the 400 Unit, came out back in 2017, but it’s not like he hasn’t been busy since then. He’s been touring hard, hitting increasingly bigger venues, and he’s also become the type of person who Hollywood hits up when they need a heart-wrecked country-rock song for a movie. (The man really should’ve at least been nominated for an Oscar for “Maybe It’s Time,” the song he wrote for A Star Is Born.)

For a little while now, Isbell has been keeping things relatively low-key. He’s been backing up his wife Amanda Shires as she’s been touring with her supergroup the Highwomen. He’s been making records with some important people — Sheryl Crow, Barry Gibb — and appearing onstage with others — Strand Of Oaks, Mavis Staples, Ezra Koenig. And now Isbell is back in album mode.

This spring, Isbell and his 400 Unit will return with the new LP Reunions, as The Boot reports. “There are a lot of ghosts on this album,” Isbell said in a statement. “Sometimes the songs are about the ghosts of people who aren’t around anymore, but they’re also about who I used to be, the ghost of myself. I found myself writing songs that I wanted to write fifteen years ago, but in those days, I hadn’t written enough songs to know how to do it yet. Just now have I been able to pull it off to my own satisfaction. In that sense it’s a reunion with the me I was back then.”

Isbell has been teasing new music online for a few days, and today he’s released “Be Afraid,” the album’s first single. It’s a grand, purposeful Southern rocker about needing to take a stand sometimes: “Be afraid, very afraid/ But do it anyway.” Isbell and his band recorded it with regular producer Dave Cobb. Check it out, along with the Reunions tracklist, below, via The Boot.

01 “What’ve I Done To Help”
02 “Dreamsicle”
03 “Only Children”
04 “Overseas”
05 “Running With Our Eyes Closed”
06 “River”
07 “Be Afraid”
08 “St. Peter’s Autograph”
09 “It Gets Easier”
10 “Letting You Go”

02/29 Tempe, AZ @ Innings Festival
03/26 Savannah, GA @ Savannah Music Festival
03/27 St. Augustine, FL @ St. Augustine Amphitheatre
03/28 Mobile, AL @ Saenger Theatre
03/29 Montgomery, AL @ Montgomery Performing Arts Center
05/22 Boston, MA @ Boston Calling
05/29 Bethel, NY @ Mountain Jam
06/3 Philadelphia, PA @ Met Opera House*
06/4 Vienna, VA @ Wolf Trap†
06/5 New York, NY @ Rooftop at Pier 17†
06/6 New York, NY @ Rooftop at Pier 17†
06/8 Durham, NC @ Durham Performing Arts Center‡
06/9 Durham, NC @ Durham Performing Arts Center‡
06/11 Atlanta, GA @ The Coca-Cola Roxy*
06/12 Atlanta, GA @ The Coca-Cola Roxy*
06/13 Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo
06/18 Milwaukee, WI @ Riverside Theater*
06/19 Minneapolis, MN @ The Armory*
06/20 East Moline, IL @ Rust Belt*
06/21 St. Louis, MO @ The Stifel Theatre*
06/23 Grand Rapids, MI @ DeVos Performance Hall*
06/25 Toronto, ON @ Meridian Hall*
06/26 Moon Township, PA @ UPMC Events Center*
06/27 Williamsburg, VA @ Williamsburg Live at DeWitt Museum Lawn
06/28 Boone, NC @ Schafer Center for the Performing Arts
07/18-19 Whitefish, MT @ Under The Big Sky Festival
07/20 Vancouver, BC @ The Orpheum#
07/21 Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre#
07/22 Portland, OR @ Theater of the Clouds#
07/24 San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield Theatre#
07/25 San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield Theatre#
07/26 Santa Barbara, CA @ Santa Barbara Bowl#
07/28 San Diego, CA @ Humphreys Concerts By The Bay#
07/29 Los Angeles, CA @ The Greek Theatre#
07/31 Reno, NV @ Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort#
08/1 Salt Lake City, UT @ Eccles Theater#
08/2 Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks+
08/4 Bonner Springs, KS @ Providence Medical Center Amphitheater#
08/5 Little Rock, AR @ First Security Amphitheater#
08/7 Austin, TX @ ACL Live at the Moody Theater#
08/8 Austin TX @ ACL Live at the Moody Theater#
08/9 Dallas, TX @ Bomb Factory#
08/29 Chicago, IL @ Wrigley Field
09/11-13 Bristol, TN @ Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion
11/6 Oslo, Norway @ Spektrum
11/7 Stockholm, Sweden @ Stockholm Waterfront
11/8 Copenhagen, Denmark @ Vega
11/10 Berlin, Germany @ Festsaal Kreuzberg
11/11 Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso
11/14 Antwerp, Belgium @ De Roma
11/15 Koln, Germany @ Gloria
11/17 London, UK @ Eventim Apollo
11/18 Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall
11/19 Dublin, Ireland @ Olympia Theatre
*with Strand of Oaks
†with David Crosby & Friends
‡with The War & Treaty
#with Billy Strings
+with Lucinda Williams

Reunions is out 5/15 on Isbell’s own Southeastern label.

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