Here We Rest is the second album from Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit and the singer/songwriter's third studio effort following his departure from the Drive-By Truckers. An Alabama native, Isbell comes from a tradition of Southern music. He proudly embraces his roots, which shine through in his songs and even in the title of the album. Here We Rest was Alabama's original motto. However, instead of resting comfortably within its boundaries, Isbell, along with keyboardist Derry deBorja, guitarist Browan Lollar, drummer Chad Gamble and bassist Jimbo Hart transcend them. Isbell's thoughtful songwriting and warm, soulful voice are genuine, natural abilities that come through the music here admirably.
The characters that populate Here We Rest are wrung out. In “Alabama Pine," the protagonist has found himself on the outside of the life he once knew. He is living in a small room and in a state of emotional disrepair - estranged from the woman that he loved, as well as friends. He is beginning to recognize that his own remoteness and obstinacy has played a large part in his current state of affairs. While in “Tour Of Duty,” Jason writes of a soldier that is coming home from war for the last time, and will try, more than likely in vain, to assimilate back into civilian life.
“Save It For Sunday” is about a bar patron who tells his fellow drinker that “we got cares of our own,” and suggests that he save his sorrows for his “choir and everyone” at his church. In “We’ve Met,” Jason puts himself in the place of a person that was left behind in their hometown and, with a tinge of bitterness, remembers the one who went away better than they are remembered.