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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v8n9 (02/26/2009) » Section: Left of the Dial

U2 - No Line on the Horizon

In this moment when everything we thought about popular music, and about the popular music business, is teetering at the edge of a cliff, the one thing the doomsayers can’t deny is the transcendent art of songcraft and its thread through every metamorphosis of every lyrical genre.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

There have been a few times that I realized Jason Isbell had that special something that sets an artist apart from the pack. At least a couple of those were when he was still the “kid” playing third guitar in the Drive-By Truckers off to the side of Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. The first was hearing his song “Outfit”—a graceful ode to a father teaching his son a lesson about being poor and humble but also strong and proud—as an addition to the Truckers’ 2003 record Decoration Day. The next was his leading that band through a sublime version of the Stones’ eerie beauty “Moonlight Mile” on a summer evening at Lafayette Square. All that was before his exit from the Truckers—an event that remains cloudy since 2007 despite all the press release niceties about the split being “amicable”—and I wondered how he would fare on his own. He was the texture against the sometimes over-the-top Southern caricature that the two main Truckers were as much playing up as they were trying to redefine.

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