Jason Isbell has always recognized how joy is meaningless without pain, and that life’s real beauty lies not in the promise of forever, but in treating the ephemeral with the delicacy and respect it deserves. That knowledge is what makes “If We Were Vampires,” the newest single from his forthcoming LP The Nashville Sound, so affecting: it’s a love song dosed heavily in reality, packed both with the gut-wrenching truth that death is the inevitable divider and the powerful conclusion that immortality would actually render true passion pointless.
“It’s knowing that this can’t go on forever, likely one of us will have to spend some days alone,” sings Isbell alongside harmonies from his wife Amanda Shires to some understated acoustic guitar. Isbell’s love songs are savvy enough to exist outside of fantasyland even at their most intense: though Southeastern‘s “Cover Me Up” finds two lovers shunning the world in favor of each other, it’s not without knowledge that something, somehow, will force them to leave the comforts of a private embrace. “If We Were Vampires,” though heartbreaking in its honesty, offers our limited lifespans not as a terrifying bookend, but a qualifier that makes love worthwhile. As Isbell puts it, “maybe time running out is a gift.”
The Nashville Sound will be released June 16th via Southeastern Records/Thirty Tigers.