Isbell, Rice, Denning drop new sounds
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Isbell, Rice, Denning drop new sounds

Friday, May 15, 2020 – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit are back with "Reunions," perhaps his most personal album yet. Isbell keeps the album a taut 10 songs. The disc was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb and recorded at Nashville's historic RCA Studio A. "Reunions" is Isbell's seventh full-length studio album and the fourth released with his band, the 400 Unit: Derry deBorja (piano, keyboard, organ, omnichord), Chad Gamble (drums, tambourine), Jimbo Hart (bass), Amanda Shires (fiddle) and Sadler Vaden (acoustic guitar, electric guitar). The new album also includes background vocals from special guests David Crosby (Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Byrds) and Jay Buchanan (Rival Sons).

Chase Rice is back with more new music today, "The Album Part II." The four-song project follows January's surprise release of The Album Part I and will be part of an overall collection slated for later this year. Rice had a hand in writing three of the four songs. Chris DeStefano and Rice co-produced the project.

Travis Denning has enjoyed a lot of success as a songwriter for the likes of Jason Aldean, Michael Ray and Justin Moore. He also had a semi-hit with "David Alan Parker From Powder Springs." He's out with a heavily beer-themed six-song EP, which includes the hit "After a Few." "David Alan Parker..." was not included on the EP produced by Jeremy Stover.

Gretchen Peters releases "The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury" (Scarlet Letter Records) honoring the singer-songwriter in a project that had been simmering for at least a decade. Peters recorded the disc at Cinderella Studio where Newbury recorded a trio of albums in the late '50s/'60s. Songs include "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," a hit for Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.

Bluegrass band Special Consensus is out with "Chicago Barn Dance," celebrating the 45th anniversary of the band and the longstanding connection of country and bluegrass from the time of radio station WLS' National Barn Dance. The songs relate to Chicago and/or were penned by artists who lived there. Robbie Fulks, Michael Cleveland, Rob Ickes and Alison Brown are among the guests.

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CD reviews

CD review - Weathervanes Bob Dylan famously sang about how you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit do more than just gage wind direction with "Weathervanes." Isbell has a unique ability to get deep inside the heads of his various characters to reveal insightful patterns of thought and behavior. Along with his talented 400 Unit band, Isbell has given yet another smart set of songs. Isbell is especially adept at diagnosing pain points. ...
Inspiration comes in many forms. Chase Rice found it through an existential crisis. As an integral part of the bro country movement, his catalog has plenty of beer, trucks and pretty girls to go around. After having stratospheric success with a co-write on the massive Florida Georgia hit "Cruise," he found that he had some things to say outside of the gloss and cliche of bro country. Enter his late father's love, who is on the cover as a tribute, a loyal canine companion and a bevy ...
CD review - Georgia Blue Jason Isbell deserves kudos for putting a unique spin on the benefit album. Instead of throwing together a bunch of many times unrelated celebrities to pitch in, Isbell has brought together talented performers to cover Georgia-related songs and songs by Georgia-based artists. All proceeds support Black Voters Matter, Fair Fight and Georgia Stand-Up. Even if you may not support these groups, you will still enjoy this set of mostly familiar songs. The album opens and closes with two R.E.M. songs. ...

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