Jason Isbell, former Drive-By Trucker and current 400 Unit leader, has announced the follow-up to the Grammy-winning 2017 album The Nashville Sound — the new 10-song album is titled Reunions, and is scheduled for release May 15.
Alongside that announcement comes the single “Be Afraid,” which seems, at least in part, directed at the Nashville establishment (which, of course, includes himself). He sings, over a very classic-rock vibe:
The stage belongs to you
You feel like a star
You can bark and snap like a dog at the man who just tuned your guitar
I don’t think you even recognize the kid in the wings
And I don’t think you even see her in yourself
Looks to you for what to do with all her delicate dreams
But you’re too terrified to be of any help
Later, Isbell pointedly criticizes artists for not speaking their minds more forcefully: “If your words add up to nothing / Then you’re making a choice to sing a cover when you need a battle cry.”
Isbell and The 400 Unit have a handful of U.S. dates scheduled through the spring and early summer, including post-Reunions release festival appearances at Boston Calling, Mountain Jam Festival and Bonnaroo.