Daily Distraction: Read Andy Downing on Jason Isbell via the Coda Collection

Alive's editor went long on the music of Jason Isbell for new Prime channel the Coda Collection, which is streaming the songwriter's 2019 Ryman show

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit on the Coda Collection website

Today saw the launch of the Coda Collection, a new subscription streaming service offered via Amazon Prime's video channels. The collection boasts a bunch of concert films and music documentaries, accompanied online by write-ups from various authors, including Alive editor Andy Downing, who delved into the music of Jason Isbell.

The essay is paired with Isbell and the 400 Unit's 2019 performance at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, and Downing used the opportunity to introduce new fans to one of the greatest living songwriters, while also going deep into Isbell's music in a way that's satisfying for longtime fans. Here's one particularly good excerpt:

The real beauty in Isbell’s music is that he never folds when confronted with this wreckage, carrying on to find comfort in a lover’s embrace, lifting a fist in righteous anger and engaging in an undeterred quest for self-improvement. On a swaggering “24 Frames,” for one, Isbell sings of a continued desire to make himself worthy of another’s love, which was given when he had nothing, and which he still feels a need to earn. It’s similar to how the musician has approached his career, pushing past the failures, setting aside the successes and focusing on the songs with the same careful attention he exhibited long before he could comfortably call the Ryman home.

I love watching concert films, and I often grow frustrated at the dearth of good options on the major streaming services, so the arrival of the Coda Collection is good news. It's a little classic rock-heavy at the moment, but I imagine I'll pony up the $4.99 a month to avoid wading through YouTube garbage to find high-quality streams. And if nothing else, it's nice to have an outlet for good music writing curated by former Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot.