“The album is topical, current, a record of time passed,” Jason Isbell says of his newly finished follow-up to 2015’s Something More Than Free. Recorded last month during a two-week stint at producer Dave Cobb’s RCA Studio A, the record relies not only on Isbell’s writing, but on the full power of his band, the 400 Unit, whose contributions take a front-seat role.
“Lyrics and melody are still the driving force behind what we’re doing,” he tells Rolling Stone, “but this time around, there’s more of a rock and roll influence. You might shed some tears, but for once there’s a chance you might also dance a little.”
Isbell hinted at the album’s direction on New Year’s Eve, when he tweeted about an upcoming recording session with his “rock and roll band.” Earlier this week, he gave fans another clue, this time in the form of a 30-second video clip that included studio footage and some loud, guitar-fueled snippets of a new song. Although the band has yet to debut any new album cuts in concert, Isbell and company will be on the road through May, giving them plenty of time to drop new hints.
The singer-guitarist recently reunited with his old bandmates in Drive-By Truckers during a January show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, performing “Heathens” off the Southern-rock group’s Decoration Day album. He is also set to appear on a new tribute album to Don Williams, along with Chris Stapleton, John Prine and Garth Brooks, due this May.