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Sadler Vaden, lead guitarist in Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit, is set to drop his self-titled solo LP today, August 12th. And Performer is excited to premiere the new track “Broken Home” from the album, which you can order now on Vaden’s Bandcamp page. HIT PLAY below and scroll down for more info after the jump…
Though he is immediately recognizable as the electrifying guitar player in Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit, Sadler Vaden cut his musical teeth as the primary songwriter and frontman for Charleston, S.C., power trio Leslie. After eight years of crisscrossing the country, Vaden decided to disband the group, dropping the mantle of frontman to become the hired gun in a latter-day lineup of Atlanta rock legends Drivin N Cryin. In his two years with DNC, Vaden had a major impact on the band’s acclaimed four-EP series, before moving on to his current role with the 400 Unit. Encouraged by both Drivin N Cryin’s Kevn Kinney and Jason Isbell to continue writing songs, Vaden filled notebooks with lyrics while logging miles on the road, honing his craft and coming to the realization that he missed standing front-and-center, with audiences hanging on every note. His new eponymous full-length, Sadler Vaden, finds him jubilantly doing just that.
The record is an impressive follow-up to 2012’s Radio Road, a self-produced project that found Vaden playing every instrument himself. This time out, he works with a group of Nashville-based heavy hitters, including Grammy award-winning producer Paul Ebersold, guitar hero Audley Freed (The Black Crowes, Jimmy Page, Cry of Love), and fellow 400 Unit member Derry Deborja. Inspired by the tones and textures of the 1960s and ’70s, the album moves between guitar-driven rockers and poignant acoustic numbers, with nods to major influences Big Star, Neil Young, and Wings. Vaden’s work as an instrumentalist is still on full display, but the self-titled record also shines a light on his lyrics, presenting him not only as a songwriter, but also as a storyteller.
And the story he tells is both familiar and intensely personal. “Being around a writer like Isbell has influenced me to write about my own struggles and losses,” Vaden says. “And it’s also taught me how to be concise in crafting songs.” Loss—particularly the death of Vaden’s father, who passed away from alcoholism when Vaden was just 18, and his mother, who lost her battle with cancer on his 21st birthday—is a theme throughout the record. As is Vaden’s hardscrabble Southern childhood growing up in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. It’s a town painted as a Technicolor vacation dreamscape of manicured golf courses and sandy coastline, but the Vadens were familiar with its darker side, where they lived a transient lifestyle. “I write about a lot of the characters I came across,” Vaden says. “‘Greta’ and ‘Land of No Refuge’ are both set in that town, and the updated version of ‘End of the Road’ [originally recorded by Leslie] deals with grieving after the loss of my parents.” In the midst of despair, though, there are brighter moments on the record, including anthemic lead track “You Can’t Have It All,” where the audience is encouraged to live in the moment rather than lose themselves to nostalgic memories, and also lead single “Get You High,” a tasty slice of Badfinger-esque power pop.
Though some wounds may never fully heal, Vaden found that digging deep under the scar tissue to extract these songs was a step in the right direction. “It was extremely therapeutic for me,” he says. “And I think that a lot of people will relate to the things I’m writing about. Before you can move ahead, you need to make peace with your past.” And that’s exactly what Sadler Vaden does, one bright melody and raw guitar riff at a time.