Anyone who’s seen Jason Isbell live with his band, the 400 Unit, has likely taken notice of guitarist Sadler Vaden’s effortless command of his instrument, as he peppers the songs with tasteful but thrilling solos and unique voicings that tell their own lyrical tale. But Vaden’s a prolific solo artist, too (his most recent self-titled LP came out in 2016) and “Monster,” his newest release, is a furious rock & roll reclamation of our poisonous political climate.
“I wrote this song right before the 2016 presidential election,” Vaden tells Rolling Stone Country. “I wanted to write about how there are people all around us – whether it be politics, religion, school shooters – that can influence our world in extremely negative ways. It can easily be the boy next door or the people running our country. Besides acting on these issues, all we can say is, ‘what a monster.’ We can’t sleep on it.”
Driven by an infectious melody built around a bassline from the Wild Feathers’ Joel King and Vaden’s signature cadre of guitar sounds – some mid-rangey, retro distortion and riffs both loose and precise – “Monster” cuts straight to the chase: “we’re under attack by a sociopath, someone tell me I’m dreaming,” Vaden sings, evoking a bit of classic American rock of the Kiss and Boston era, a touch of British glam and even New York punk outfit D Generation.
“Monster” is part of a series of digital singles that Vaden will be releasing this year. A native of South Carolina, the former member of Drivin’ N Cryin’ also recently produced the self-titled LP for Nashville-based rock band Hannah Wicklund and the Steppin’ Stones.