Austin City Limits will air its penultimate new episode of the year this Saturday evening, broadcasting an hour’s worth of performance highlights from 2016’s Americana Honors and Awards.
Among the dozen or so songs to make the cut, Jason Isbell’s crisp, chipper “If It Takes a Lifetime” – performed during the ceremony’s first half, before the singer-songwriter returned to the stage to collect two of the evening’s biggest awards – stands out as one of the episode’s sharpest moments. In the video below, Isbell straps on an acoustic guitar and kicks into Something More Than Free‘s leadoff track, leaning on his five bandmates in the 400 Unit for support. Although he introduces the group afterwards as a “rock & roll band,” “If It Takes a Lifetime” doubles as one of his most country-leaning songs in years, driven forward by the trebly twang of his acoustic and the swoon of Amanda Shires’ fiddle riff.
Recorded live at the Ryman Auditorium on September 21st, the PBS show includes more than a dozen performances, including Steve Earle’s stirring version of Guy Clark’s “Desperadoes Waiting For a Train,” George Strait’s “King of Broken Hearts” and Bob Weir’s take on the Merle Haggard staple “Mama Tried.” Austin City Limits will air its ACL Hall of Fame New Year’s special on December 31st, with Season 42 resuming in January 2017.