Singer/songwriter Jason Isbell is a man of the road. He spent six years touring with the alt country band, the Drive-By Truckers. And as a solo performer, he's been known to spend more than 200 days a year on the road. To write his latest album though, Isbell actually unpacked his bags in Alabama, and the result is called "Here We Rest."

Meredith Ochs has our review.


JASON ISBELL: (Singing) Well, I moved into this room, if you could call it that, a week ago. I never do what I'm supposed to do. Hardly even know my name anymore. When no one calls it out, it kind of vanishes away.

MEREDITH OCHS: "Here We Rest" was the original state motto of Alabama, where Jason Isbell was raised, and where he still calls home. It's the perfect title for his new CD. Finding himself in familiar territory, he re-examines his past, attempts to rekindle relationships and retrace old patterns, and fights the feeling of being a stranger in his own town.


ISBELL: (Singing) If we pass through on a Sunday, better make a stop at Wayne's. It's the only open liquor store north, and I can't stand the pain of being by myself without a little help on a Sunday afternoon. Well, I needed that damn woman like a dream needs gasoline, and I tried to be some ancient kind of man, one that's never seen the beauty in the world, but I tried to chase it down, tried to make the whole thing mine. Somebody take me home through those Alabama pines.

OCHS: Moving back home from anywhere after years away requires a period of readjustment. And on this song, Jason Isbell explores the path of a soldier returning from war.


ISBELL: (Singing) I'm arriving on the day's last train, stepping on the platform, trying to see you through the rain. I don't know the ways you've changed since I left, and I really don't care. I've done my tour of duty, now I'm home and I ain't going anywhere.

OCHS: But unlike Isbell, who wrestles with fitting back into his old life on the rest of the album, this soldier is determined to put his tour of duty behind him.


ISBELL: (Singing) And I promise not to bore you with my stories. And I promise not to scare you with my tears. And I never would exaggerate the glory. I'll seem so satisfied here.

OCHS: One of the reasons Jason Isbell parted ways with the Drive-By Truckers was to follow a divergent musical path from their take on Southern rock. He wanted to incorporated more of the country soul that he grew up around, and on this CD, he does.


ISBELL: (Singing) I was out there all alone. I was searching for a friend.

OCHS: He recorded part of it at the legendary FAME Studios. FAME has made an indelible mark on American music since the 1950s, cranking out hits by everyone from Aretha Franklin to Paul Anka. Isbell gets the sound and vibe of the place perfectly on this song. As you can hear, music is the one part of coming home that's not a struggle for him.


ISBELL: (Singing) Well, I can't free my heart from you, baby, 'cause you keep...

BLOCK: The new album from Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit is called "Here We Rest." Reviewer Meredith Ochs is a DJ and talk show host on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.


ISBELL: (Singing) 'Cause you keep it hanging on your...

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