AOTY 2019
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - The Nashville Sound
Critic Score
Based on 16 reviews
2017 Ratings: #66 / 725
Year End Rank: #33
User Score
Based on 83 ratings
2017 Ratings: #76
June 16, 2017 / Release Date
LP / Format
Southeastern / Label
Suggest a Genre
Abuse of this feature may prevent future contributions from your account.
Jason Isbell / Featured Artists
Your Review
Sign In to rate and review



Through matter-of-fact lyrical acuity, Isbell peels back layers of cultural abstraction to reveal the grit of the human experience on The Nashville Sound, and renders it much more inclusive than the title’s regional attribution might make it seem.

God Is in the TV

Once again, we laugh, we cry, our hearts are warmed and our minds transported, sometimes to a better world, and other times to places altogether bleaker. Regardless of which destination we arrive at, The Nashville Sound is the work of a classic artist in one of the most prolonged purple patches in any musician’s career. Truly spellbinding.

American Songwriter

The Nashville Sound is another triumph in his incredible hot streak.

A.V. Club
The result is Isbell’s most topical and far-reaching album yet, but one that’s also suffused with hope.
Slant Magazine

The album is more eclectic and energetic than his other recent efforts, which have seen Isbell’s voice and vitality as a songwriter crystallize just as his sound, for better or worse, has become slicker and more uniform.


Perhaps it's unfair ... to hold Isbell to his own lofty standards. Compared to those of his contemporaries, these songs are still miles ahead, particularly album highlight "If We Were Vampires."

The Independent
There’s nothing particularly Nashville about Jason Isbell’s new album – no cowboy hats or keening steel guitars – but it does possess, in spades, the kind of blue-collar concerns that have traditionally furnished country music’s backbone.
He couches his anxieties in simple but poetic language as his band find the sweet spot between country and rock.

Isbell was already a gifted artist when he first gained public visibility with the Drive-By Truckers, but The Nashville Sound finds him growing from strength to strength, and it reaffirms his place as one of the best and most emotionally affecting artists working in roots music today.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s first album together in five years is an enjoyable ride through his career and the life he has lived. It’s a deeply personal and often autobiographical album that cuts right on the things Isbell, the band, and his family, confront in the world.
Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit have undoubtedly produced an album that ought to captivate audiences regardless of their background. Moreover, ‘The Nashville Sound’ will perhaps serve as a blueprint for how American folk music can raise consciousness in moving beyond mere entertainment.
Rolling Stone
After spending the last five years reckoning with past darkness, Isbell, 38, shifts his gaze outward.

The Nashville Sound, Isbell and the 400 Unit’s full-band follow-up, is, in many ways, a step backward.

The Skinny

Isbell sings as if there's a new weight of responsibility on his shoulders, which doesn't necessarily add up to his best material. The Nashville Sound isn't a bad record by any estimation, but there are flat moments.

everybody always says yeehaw but no one ever asks haw yee
Nobody is writing songs exactly like Jason Isbell right now, and his knack for detail and power of wringing profound realizations out of universal experiences marks this firmly as a Jason Isbell album. But if he were to try to simply recapture the magic of “Southeastern,” it would be extremely difficult to not be disappointed, which is why it’s good to watch Isbell push himself a bit, both sonically and lyrically. He’s exploring new themes, considering other perspectives ... read more
Although the instrumentation is nothing to write home about, Isbell's lyrics are some of the most relatable, passionate, and relevant I've heard this year. The Nashville Sound is easily one of the best country albums I've heard in a long time, and will be one of the best (if not the best) country albums of 2017.

Favorite Tracks: If We Were Vampires, The Cumberland Gap, White Man's World, Last Of My Kind, Hope The High Road, Somethig To Love

Least Favorite Track: Tupelo

Jason Isbell and The ... read more
One Word Review: Core
This is the best written album of the year and the best country album released in 2017. Isbell sheds light on difficult topics from the center of the storm and leaves listeners with something substantial to contemplate afterwards. Lyrics are the most important aspect of music to me therefore - the score. I can see those who value instrumentation feeling less excited - nevertheless this is an excellent body of work worthy of contemplation.
Purchasing The Nashville Sound from Amazon helps support Album of the Year. Or consider a donation?
Become a Donor
Donor badge, no ads + more benefits.

Track List

  1. Last of My Kind
  2. Cumberland Gap
  3. Tupelo
  4. White Man's World
  5. If We Were Vampires
  6. Anxiety
  7. Molotov
  8. Chaos and Clothes
  9. Hope the High Road
  10. Something to Love
Sign in to comment
No one has said anything yet.
In Library (26)

Added on: March 13, 2017