Much of Jason Isbell’s forthcoming LP, The Nashville Sound, is about balancing the intimate with the external: even when we are isolated, we’re never alone, and no decision we make is ever without context or repercussion. On “If We Were Vampires,” it’s love with the modifier of death, and on “White Man’s World” it’s the insular comforts of a more privileged existence surrounded by so much suffering. The dull makes the bright shine harder, and on “White Man’s World,” Isbell comes to terms with the world in which he thrives: one that sees women like his wife slighted, people of color targeted by police and, just today, American jobs and politics prioritized over the well being of the planet.
“There’s no such thing as someone else’s war,” he sings alongside some bluesy, dirty riffs and harmonies from wife Amanda Shires. “Your creature comforts aren’t the only things worth fighting for/ You’re still breathing it’s not too late/ We’re all carrying one great burden, sharing one fate.”
In the era of Trump – an administration of which Isbell has been a vocal critic – it’s a poignant punch to the gut, as America increasingly favors the comforts of the white man over the greater good. But like many moments on The Nashville Sound, it’s not mired only in the darkness, and “White Man’s World” serves as an important reminder that we’re still breathing, and it’s not too late. At least not yet.
The Nashville Sound is due June 16th via Southeastern Records/Thirty Tigers.