Following the group’s remote rendition of “24 Frames” last weekend, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit have released a performance of “Something More Than Free.” The song served as the title track of Isbell’s 2015 album, billed — like its predecessor, Southeastern — as a solo release.
Isbell is joined by his bandmate and spouse Amanda Shires in the center frame, and the two are surrounded by 400 Unit members Jimbo Hart, Sadler Vaden, Chad Gamble, and Derry deBorja. Together, they give a loose, live performance, accented by Vaden’s mournful swells of electric guitar.
“Something More Than Free” is also one of Isbell’s most powerful songs about the grind of blue-collar existence and the hope for an afterlife that doesn’t require back-breaking labor. “Sunday morning I’m too tired to go to church/But I thank God for the work,” sings Isbell, a line that hits even harder while thousands of hourly and gig-based people are currently unemployed because of the pandemic.
Isbell and the 400 Unit are tentatively scheduled to return to the road in late May, a trek that will come shortly after they release the new album, Reunions, on May 15th. To date, he has released the songs “Be Afraid,” “Only Children,” and “What’ve I Done to Help” from the project.