Like the term “Americana” that he’s frequently saddled with, Jason Isbell covers a lot of ground on his latest album The Nashville Sound. That’s true in the sonic sense, surely — try holding up The Boss-ian “Hope The High Road” next to the heartbreaking “If We Were Vampires” — but it also holds up geographically. Along with his band The 400 Unit, Isbell profiles the grand and forgotten expanse of non-coastal America over 10 songs, frequently picking topics and characters who wouldn’t get a moment in the spotlight otherwise.
Take, for example, the album’s odes to long-term relationships and workaday love. On top of being a huge part of Isbell’s personal life, the frontman revealed in a recent interview with Uproxx that he finds the subject fascinating.
“I think the real question, for me, after all this time, is why are we getting worse at love?” he said. “Why are we getting worse at keeping our families together, after all these years, and all these generations? I’m starting to think maybe that experiment was one that was meant to keep us alive when we needed it. Maybe we’re evolving out of that kind of thing. It’s always the very last of an era that the really good stories come out of. Maybe this is the end of all that. Maybe we’re not going know each other in that way anymore. Our relationships will be more passing. But I think there’s probably something very interesting about documenting the rare relationship that attempts to go the distance these days.”
One listen to The Nashville Sound proves Isbell right. Stream it now via NPR’s First Listen series.