The best songwriters can take an old idea and make it sound fresh. And Jason Isbell is one hell of a songwriter. Even though it’s a thought that most of us have had, his rumination on the idea that any life-long couple will eventually reach a point where one of them has to die first still manages to be heartbreaking. It certainly doesn’t hurt that “If We Were Vampires” features Isbell’s real-life wife crooning right alongside him about how lucky the undead have it. Prepare for some dusty onion moments on this tender track.
The sparse and mellow folk arrangement isn’t exactly out of left-field for someone like Isbell, but it stands in stark contrast to the cuts we’ve heard already from his upcoming album The Nashville Sound. “Hope The High Road” and “Cumberland Gap” were dark and driving, more akin to Springsteen than anything from his last album. “Vampires” gives us hope that when Isbell says he’s taking on the Nashville Sound, he means all of it. It might be readig too much into things, but I’m ready to hear him run his voice through as many rock, folk and country permutations as can be found in that musical city.
The Nashville Sound drops June 16 via Isbell’s own Southeastern Records.