Jason Isbell and his band The 400 Unit have just notched their best-charting, and best-selling record of Jason Isbell’s career with The Nashville Sound. Selling a total of 54,000 units, including 51,000 in pure album sales, it puts Isbell #1 in country, and #4 overall for this week on the album charts. The numbers also put Isbell atop Billboard’s Top Rock Album’s chart like his last album by beating out the new Nickelback album Feed The Machine by 7,000 units, as well as put him on top of the Americana/Folk albums chart. Isbell was beat out by pop artist Lorde at #1 overall with 109,000 equivalent album sales, as well as by 2Chainz and Kendrick Lamar’s Damn.
Isbell’s best effort previously was for his Grammy-winning last album Something More Than Free, which debuted with 46,000 units sold in 2015, barely beating out Alan Jackson for #1, and came in #6 overall. “‘The Nashville Sound’ just had the best week of any album we’ve ever made,” Isbell said on Twitter Friday (6-23). “So much for alienating half my audience by speaking my mind.”
Jason’s reference is to the small, but spirited controversy surrounding The Nashville Sound due to the political nature of some of the material, including his song “White Man’s World.” It’s hard to say if Isbell’s measured, but high-profile stance swayed some listeners away, or enticed others towards the album, but it was a wash at the very worst. For an artist with little mainstream radio support to crest the albums chart is still a remarkable feat. Jason was also helped along by appearances on multiple television shows last week, including Late Night with Stephen Colbert, CBS This Morning, as well as The Daily Show.
Jason Isbell—along with Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton—is given credit for helping to lead a resurgence of substance in Nashville. Stapleton’s recent album From A Room: Vol. 1 also went #1 upon debut, and comes in #2 in country for the current week just ahead of Lady Antebellum’s latest, Heart Break at #3. Stapleton’s debut album Traveller sits at #4.