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Film review — Jason Isbell: Running With Our Eyes Closed

Sam Jones doesn’t seem quite sure what he’s documenting here. Is it a behind-the-scenes record of the making of Jason Isbell’s 2020 album Reunions? Or the barest of peeks into the home life of the former Drive-By Trucker? It seems like Jones has hit the jackpot, as these things go, early on as some tensions flare between Isbell and his wife and bandmate Amanda Shires. But perhaps out of an over-abundance of respect for both parties, he refrains from sharing the nastier moments on camera, at most only via second-hand comments. And that distance becomes the default for the entire project; it’s mostly just guys hanging out, noodling in the studio, a few moments of creative frustration that are ultimately frivolous, the startling revelation that a professional touring musician can both miss his family and feel stir-crazy at home, and that’s it. There are worse ways to spend a couple of hours, but there’s no real need for this to exist for anyone who isn’t already a fan of anyone involved. Also, all that farting around day in, day out in an expensive Nashville studio really grinds my gears when most of my favourite records were written and rehearsed within an inch of their lives before being tracked and mixed in as few sessions as possible. Who has that kind of money to burn? Someone whose problems aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, that’s who. ★★

Cross-posted from Letterboxd