Jason Isbell - Reunions

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Vincent
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Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Vincent »

Jason really changed things up on this one. Lots of electric guitar and some interesting War on Drugs like melodies.

I didn't listen to the early releases, as I usually wait for the vinyl. I'm glad that I did.
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Sterling Bigmouth
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Sterling Bigmouth »

A local radio station here in Nashville played the album in its entirety last night. My immediate takeaways:

1. What’ve I Done to Help is probably one of my least favorite songs Jason has ever released. It’s not unlistenable bad, but it seems like he puts one long, overdone song on every album (save for Southeastern) that just throws off the flow of the record. At least he got it out of the way early this time and there’s some nice guitar work.
2. Dreamsicle --> Only Children --> Overseas is for my money as good as any 3 song stretch on any of his previous records. I know he’s lost a lot of fans on here (for legitimate reasons), but I can see myself listening to these for a long time.
3. Running with Our Eyes Closed and River are fine songs. Nothing special, but right in his wheelhouse if that’s what you’re into.
4. Be Afraid has grown on me over the past few weeks. It’s got a cringeworthy line or two, but I think it serves a similar role as Cumberland Gap did on The Nashville Sound.
5. Things slow down on the last 3 tracks (St. Peter’s Autograph, It Gets Easier, & Letting You Go). If you aren’t a fan of the recent NPR-esque qualities of Jason’s work (for lack of a better word), these probably aren’t for you.

Overall, I think it’s a solid record. No, it’s not Southeastern, but it's worth giving a shot.
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by walthers »

Thanks for the review. I’ll give it a few listens this weekend and see how it goes. Stumbled across this today. Pretty interesting reading about the home dynamic, I feel like this is one of the first I’ve read about jason in awhile that shows a little more of the human side, some of the frustrations we are all dealing with being at home, instead of the usual cut and paste I feel is written about him.

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rlipps
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by rlipps »

Did not care for the 3 or 4 songs I've heard, but I'll give the entire album a shot before passing judgment.

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Clams »

Jason Isbell Reviews Every Jason Isbell Album, Including The New ‘Reunions’

https://uproxx.com/indie/jason-isbell-i ... ery-album/
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by ford911 »

Sterling Bigmouth wrote:A local radio station here in Nashville played the album in its entirety last night. My immediate takeaways:

1. What’ve I Done to Help is probably one of my least favorite songs Jason has ever released. It’s not unlistenable bad, but it seems like he puts one long, overdone song on every album (save for Southeastern) that just throws off the flow of the record. At least he got it out of the way early this time and there’s some nice guitar work.
2. Dreamsicle --> Only Children --> Overseas is for my money as good as any 3 song stretch on any of his previous records. I know he’s lost a lot of fans on here (for legitimate reasons), but I can see myself listening to these for a long time.
3. Running with Our Eyes Closed and River are fine songs. Nothing special, but right in his wheelhouse if that’s what you’re into.
4. Be Afraid has grown on me over the past few weeks. It’s got a cringeworthy line or two, but I think it serves a similar role as Cumberland Gap did on The Nashville Sound.
5. Things slow down on the last 3 tracks (St. Peter’s Autograph, It Gets Easier, & Letting You Go). If you aren’t a fan of the recent NPR-esque qualities of Jason’s work (for lack of a better word), these probably aren’t for you.

Overall, I think it’s a solid record. No, it’s not Southeastern, but it's worth giving a shot.
i almost agree 100%. i'm not there on overseas yet though. maybe i need a few more listens.

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Zip City »

Clams wrote:Jason Isbell Reviews Every Jason Isbell Album, Including The New ‘Reunions’

https://uproxx.com/indie/jason-isbell-i ... ery-album/
Thanks, that was really insightful
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by walthers »

walthers wrote:Thanks for the review. I’ll give it a few listens this weekend and see how it goes. Stumbled across this today. Pretty interesting reading about the home dynamic, I feel like this is one of the first I’ve read about jason in awhile that shows a little more of the human side, some of the frustrations we are all dealing with being at home, instead of the usual cut and paste I feel is written about him.
Came back and realized I never posted the link. What a dumbass.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/11/arts ... m1VbYqdvg8

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Zip City »

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Iowan »

I like "Only Children" and "Dreamsicle" a little.

I can't find anything else here. It just seems to be boring, muddy, and lacking hooks. This is easily my least favorite thing he's done.

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Zip City »

Iowan wrote:I like "Only Children" and "Dreamsicle" a little.

I can't find anything else here. It just seems to be boring, muddy, and lacking hooks. This is easily my least favorite thing he's done.
I feel like the peaks are pretty good, but the valleys are pretty bad. I found more to like than you, but mostly in the guitar playing and lyrics. Musically, he's just never going to be terribly inventive
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Tequila Cowboy »

Iowan wrote:I like "Only Children" and "Dreamsicle" a little.

I can't find anything else here. It just seems to be boring, muddy, and lacking hooks. This is easily my least favorite thing he's done.
I’ve had the opposite reaction. This is by far his best record since Southeastern, certainly the first one I’ve liked on first listen. I’ll write up a more extensive review at some point but I am pleasantly surprised.
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Jack Flash »

I agree with TC. Only a couple of listens in but I think it’s good. Unlike many of you I’ve liked most of Jason’s post-Southeastern work, but Reunions is at least more adventurous than the last couple of records. It’s also the first Jason album since Here We Rest that is at all congruent with DBT’s concurrent work - I think a few of these songs could fit pretty snugly on The Unraveling.

And as a pretty new dad, Letting You Go hits right in the feels, man.

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Tequila Cowboy »

I posted this on FB but since not everyone is over there I’ll post it here too.

It’s not a huge secret that I haven’t loved Jason Isbell’s last couple of records and it was only through watching live performances and listening to Live at the Ryman that I was able to really hear some of the excellent songs from them. Something about the production of those albums seemed to reduce the songs to craft as opposed to spotlighting the emotions of the songs. Nobody could ever doubt Isbell’s skills as a crafter of great songs, but to these ears that seemed to be all there was there. As I said the live album proved me wrong, as songs I actively disliked became favorites and I was forced to conclude that Dave Cobb’s production wasn’t doing the art any favors. It worked on Southeastern if for no other reason that those songs couldn’t be taken as anything other than the soul baring works that they were, but on Something More Than Free and The Nashville Sound I couldn’t quite find it. That’s not the case with Reunions which is at least as great a record as Southeastern and maybe better. That surprised me.

I was immediately drawn into Reunions by “What’ve I Done to Help” which comes across as honest and immediate and clearly establishes that the record is designed to be in perfect tune with the production which, while still slick, seems to have a purpose. As the record moved on that purpose starts to reveal itself as almost an homage to some of the radio friendly records of the nineteen eighties which is ironic for me because I didn’t care much for that approach at the time but have come to appreciate it with time. “Dreamsicle” uses that to approach to make the confessional words of the narrator seem to float over a soft bed of memory, regret and acceptance. Side one closes with “Overseas” which sounds like Dire Straits filtered through The War On Drugs and crafted with Isbell’s own flair. If you don’t notice the not so subtle nod to Mark Knopfler in the soaring guitar then you aren’t listening.

Side two begins with more of the eighties radio vibe on “Running With Our Eyes Closed” this time starting slow while building to a crescendo over a rolling bassline and finishing with more subtle guitar. Again, Jason’s ability to craft a great lyric has never been in doubt but the seamless synergy between words and music is what makes these songs so good. When I first heard “Be Afraid” a few months ago I was intrigued but not quite hooked. Its political lyrics seemed almost forced, but in the context of this record, it really works and the message is a powerful one. The other standout tracks on this side are “The River” which rolls along much like it’s metaphor and the closing track “Letting You Go” an ode to his daughter from the viewpoint of a much older narrator who has seen her life unfold. In many ways this one reminds me of Mike Cooley’s Primer Coat from the DBT English Oceans record. It’s also the first song on the album that sounds like it could have been on any of the last three albums with it’s soft country strum and plaintive delivery.

The best things about being a music fan are those moments where you’re upended from your expectations and treated to something beautiful and new. That’s what this album is to me. As Trevor Noah said at the end of one of his interviews with Jason, I could listen to him speak all day long. Now, for the first time in years in an album setting, I’m enjoying hearing him play and sing and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Beaverdam »

“Letting you Go” may be considered overly sentimental by some, but I have a daughter and watched her play while listening, and I cried like a baby!

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Iowan »

I'm trying to give this some more listens. I'm warming up on "Overseas". I dig the outro for sure.

"Running With Our Eyes Closed" is still just not at all appealing to me.

There's definitely a huge Mark Knopfler influence in the guitar tone.

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Zip City »

Saving Country Music gave it a 7.5/10, but not after spending 10 paragraphs yelling at him first

savingcountrymusic.com/album-review-jason-isbells-reunions
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Iowan »

Zip City wrote:Saving Country Music gave it a 7.5/10, but not after spending 10 paragraphs yelling at him first

savingcountrymusic.com/album-review-jason-isbells-reunions
LOL. Of course.

That said, he has point with this snippet
But ultimately, if you’re alienating and pushing away the elements of your fan base you believe most need to heed your message, how much of an agent for change are you really being?

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Vincent »

After multiple listens on good cans, I really believe these songs will crush it live.

The only thing that didn't really standout was Amanda's fiddle. Just didn't really fit in the mix.
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by RolanK »

Iowan wrote:
There's definitely a huge Mark Knopfler influence in the guitar tone.
I made the same observation. I think it fits well with the overall late 70's early 80's vibe of the production.
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Iowan »

Good songs that I enjoy:
It Gets Easier
Overseas
Only Children
Dreamsicle

Forgettable, but inoffensive:
River
Be Afraid
St Peter's Autorgaph
Letting You Go

Absolutely nothing here for me:
What've I Done to Help
Running With Our Eyes Closed

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Iowan »

"Letting You Go" is getting a lot of attention, but I think that "Something to Love" on Nashville Sound covers similar ground and does it better.

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by pearlbeer »

Here is Jason's stream from the Friday night album release. It is really nice, I enjoyed the fan stream. You can really tell that he is missing the celebration and tour behind the album.

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Clams »

I agree 100% with yall on the Knopfler vibe. I find myself really liking the music and production, but I also find some of the lyrics to be overwrought and cringeworthy. But the guitars do sound great. And I'll say this: it's his first record since Something More Than Free that hasn't instantly bored me.
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Tequila Cowboy »

Iowan wrote:Good songs that I enjoy:
It Gets Easier
Overseas
Only Children
Dreamsicle

Forgettable, but inoffensive:
River
Be Afraid
St Peter's Autorgaph
Letting You Go

Absolutely nothing here for me:
What've I Done to Help
Running With Our Eyes Closed
I actually love “What’ve I Done to Help”, likes it from minute one. It’s the song that sticks in my head more than any other on the record. It’s not my favorite track but I’d put it in your first category.
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Zip City »

"Overseas" is really growing on me. Feels like Jason tries to put a big, power pop "single" on each album, but I never really cared for past iterations ("24 Frames", etc.). The guitar work on this one feels like 1980's David Gilmour.

"Running with Our Eyes Closed" feels like 80's power pop as filtered through Ryan Adams (who still seems to have influence on Jason's writing)
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by whatwouldcooleydo? »

Zip City wrote:Saving Country Music gave it a 7.5/10, but not after spending 10 paragraphs yelling at him first

savingcountrymusic.com/album-review-jason-isbells-reunions
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Smitty »

I think "Dreamsicle" is up there with his best and "What Have I Done to Help" is absolutely in the running for his worst. Eek.
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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by SXDX »

nevermind

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Re: Jason Isbell - Reunions

Post by Zip City »

For me, the best combination of melody, production and guitar work is easily "Overseas". I think it's the standout on this record
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