Jason Isbell • Letting the Music Do the Talking

Thoughts About an Inspirational & Gifted Singer-Songwriter On the Eve of His January 29th Temple Theatre Appearance

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, , Artist Feature,   By: Matt deHeus

21st January, 2023     0

The last time Jason Isbell performed in the area back in 2016, I reached out through The Review to his public relations team.  Much to my delight I was granted a phone interview.  Fifteen minutes. About six weeks before the show. One-on-one with one of my songwriting idols.  Wow!

I’m not alone in putting Isbell on a pedestal among my musician friends.  I reached out to many of them, determined to craft a really good set of questions.  I figured I had time for five or six and I wanted to make the most of them for myself, the readers and for my local musical circle.  Plus, I really didn’t want to bore the guy with mundane queries.

The interview was one of my highlights with the magazine.  He was exactly as you would expect:  cordial, well spoken, self-aware and obviously genuine.  I still have the recording of it somewhere.

But an interesting thing  happened in the interim between the interview and the show.  I began to read other interviews with Isbell in support of the album and tour.  With very few exceptions most of them asked pretty much the same handful of questions I did!   So much for being original.  Instead, I had the vision of him sitting in an office somewhere room on a burner phone, answering the same six questions again and again for two or three days.

Jason Isbell is coming back to the region, bringing his top shelf band, the 400 Unit with him again. 

When we reached out to see if it was possible to get another interview to promote this show, we received the polite response that Mr. Isbell had greatly limited his media availability for this tour.  He was going to simply let the music do the talking.  Can’t say that I can blame the guy.

When you are as “accidentally iconic” as Jason Isbell and that good at music, it’s an option that is occasionally on the table for you.

At this point the Isbell story has been pretty well told, as his personal life has been documented in media outlets that range from Rolling Stone to CBS Sunday Morning.  His musical home run streak continued with the studio albums Nashville Sound and Reunions, both recorded with the 400 Unit

His legacy already is established in a Venn Diagram between main stream performers like Dylan, Springsteen and Mellencamp, and more esoteric greats like Prine, Van Zandt and Clark.  He’s observational, introspective, inspirational and talking out loud about important things we sometimes don’t take time to notice.  And he is a hellacious guitar player.

This time out Jason and the Unit have taken a different tack.  Their latest release, Georgia Blue, is a compilation of cover songs that originated from Georgia based artists and bands.  He produced it to fulfill a promise he made if Joe Biden carried Georgia in the 2020 election.

Isbell splits vocals on the album with his wife, Amanda Shires, who is a singer, songwriter and fiddler of note in her own right.  With tracks that range from “Midnight Train To Georgia” to “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed.  It’s an easy listen and an incredible homage to the Southern roots of rock, rhythm and blues.

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit will be performing at the Temple Theater in Saginaw on January 29, 2023.  Show starts at 7:00 PM

A limited number of tickets are still available through the Temple Theater by visiting templetheatrearts.com

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