Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit's Sadler Vaden Wants to Get 'Next to You:' Exclusive

Bridgette Aikens
Sadler Vaden

As part of Jason Isbell's 400 Unit, guitarist Sadler Vaden is no stranger to the road. He digs into the toll that life on the road takes on "Next To You," premiering exclusively on Billboard today (Nov. 21), from his upcoming solo album Anybody Out There?

"It's a little autobiographical," Vaden says of the track. "It's really how I was feeling being on the road so much and how I was feeling for my life and the loneliness factor that kicks in. When you sign up to do this and want to dedicate your whole life to it, you don't think about when there's another person involved and how that's going to affect them. It's a constant dance of doing your best as a partner to keep your relationship in good health. The narrator wants this person they love to know they're always going to be there -- even if they're not actually there."

Vaden, who also logged time with Drivin N Cryin, says it's a message his wife certainly hears and understands. And, he adds, she likes to sing. "She's my harshest critic," he notes, "not of my guitar playing, but my songwriting. She really did like it."

Anybody Out There?, due out March 6, follows Vaden's self-titled 2016 solo release and features songwriting contributions from Aaron Lee Tasjan and Audley Freed (Black Crowes, Dixie Chicks, Jakob Dylan). Vaden recorded the album in Nashville during breaks in Isbell's touring schedule, producing the set himself with Paul Ebersold engineering. "It's kind of a hybrid, this record," Vaden acknowledges. "There were things I demoed at the house, and some of the parts I had were real good so I would take the demos in [to the studio] and strip them to what I liked and play to that.

"I really wanted to make a concise, strong-sounding rock 'n' roll album that wasn't like a garage-y type of thing but wasn't too polished -- somewhere between those things, like, say, a Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers type of record where things are thought out but there's still some life to the parts. I think it went pretty well, and I'm pretty proud of the outcome."

Vaden also delves into some hot-button, contemporary topics on the album's 10 tracks, surveying the state of the nation, and the world, in songs such as "Peace and Harmony," "Be Here Right Now," "Modern Times" and "Good Man." "I wanted to take a little more of a deeper dive into my songwriting with this particular record, my awareness of what's going on around me in the world as I see it," Vaden says. "I'm going into my mid-30s. A lot of it just seeps in naturally, but with everything that's going on in our culture and our society there were some things I felt like I wanted to say."

Vaden promises that "there will be some shows" to promote Anybody Out There?, most likely in Nashville and around the Southeast. Isbell and the 400 Unit, meanwhile, are headed into the studio soon to start work on a new album, the follow-up to 2018's Grammy Award-winning The Nashville Sound. "It can be a little nerve-wracking," Vaden says, "but Jason's really got a good handle on his writing. I think the band is playing as good as we've ever played so I'm excited to go in and see what we've got."

Listen to “Next To You” below.

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