Tag Archives: Southeastern

Jason Isbell: Something More Than Free

The time for talking about how much Jason Isbell has changed since his Drive-By Truckers days is long past. Yes, gone are the whiskey-soaked, carousals from his time in the seminal Southern band.  Also in the past is the triumphant story of his hard-won sobriety and newfound life as a successful solo artist.

In their place, a shelf-full of all the hardware the 2014 Americana Music Awards had to offer, in addition to numerous critical accolades and a new life as happy family man. Also: a new album called Something More Than Free.

His 2013 breakout album Southeastern set the bar extremely high, and the follow-up, Something More Than Free, manages to reach, and perhaps hurdle, it.

Thematically, the album is a bit lighter than its predecessor, but it shares a tonal similarity. Isbell has hit a comfortable creative stride that gives the impression he and his listeners are in the midst of a fertile stage of artistic output akin to Neil Young’s early 1970s oeuvre.

Throughout Something More Than Free, Isbell constructs a now-trademark rustic realm, a world inhabited by people yearning, searching and hoping for something better, and a few who think they have it figured out. These are hardscrabble folks living with regrets and seeking redemption.

He creates such vividly imagined characters that at the conclusion of nearly every track, you feel like you’ve just finished a novel or movie, or stepped out of someone else’s dream. These characters—the guy who feels fortunate to have lost three fingers in an accident so he could get a court settlement (“The Life You Chose”), the teenage parents who can’t tell the difference between the “sacred and profane” (“Children of Children”), the guy who just wants to leave town because there’s “nothing here that can’t be left behind” (“Speed Trap Town”) and others—are instant intimates. Isbell’s craft allows these characters to come to life and for you to step into it.

Isbell is a singular voice, but it’s hard not to hear his forbearers living through him. Hints of Warren Zevon’s “Mutineer” (a song he’s performed live) live inside of “Flagship” in more ways that one.  John Prine’s wit suffuses “If It Takes A Lifetime.” And so on. Neil Young’s work informs here, his contemporary Ryan Adams there.

Sonically, Isbell and his band, including wife Amanda Shires on fiddle, are in a comfortable zone, shifting easily from melancholic ruminations to rowdy rockers and country swing.

“Children of Children,” with a string section that floats eerily over Isbell’s slide guitar and soaring solo, is one of many standout tracks on Something More Than Free.  Elsewhere, he adopts old-time, bluegrass-tinged country stomp with “If It Takes a Lifetime” and raunchy rock with “Palmetto Rose.” Throughout, his melodies seem like they’ve been there forever, pulled from the heavens by his pen.

Something More Than Free is continuation of the songwriting maturity found on Southeastern, so much so that Isbell might be wise to make some room on that shelf.

 

Something More Than Free will be released July 17 on Southeastern Records. 

Jason Isbell announces tour behind ‘Southeastern’

Tour dates have been announced for Jason Isbell, who will be out in support of his much anticipated solo album Southeastern, releasing June 11 via Southeastern Records/Thirty Tigers. Festival stops will include, Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores, AL, Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN, Stones Fest in NYC and Newport Folk Festival in Newport, RI. Isbell will be performing with a full band that will include mainstays Derry deBorja (keyboards), Chad Gamble (drums) and Jimbo Hart (bass), along with new guitarist Sadler Vaden.

Southeastern features the most personal songs Isbell has written to date. The 12 tracks emanate self-reflection, repentance and personal growth, while simultaneously making the statement that Jason Isbell has fully arrived as an artist. The striking vocals and compelling lyrics of the haunting opening track “Cover Me Up”, make it immediately apparent that this is coming from some place much deeper. Isbell’s fight for sobriety, life lessons and newfound happiness inspires the music on Southeastern

Southeastern was recorded in Nashville and produced by Dave Cobb (Jamey Johnson, The Secret Sisters). Special guests include Kim Richey and Amanda Shires, Isbell’s new bride.

Southeastern is the follow up to Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit’s 2011 critically acclaimed release, Here We Rest, which cracked the top 100 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart. The album received high praise from NPR, Associated Press, Esquire, GQ, SPIN, USA Today, Blurt, My Old Kentucky Blog and many more. Isbell made two appearances with the 400 Unit on The Late Show with David Letterman and his song “Alabama Pines” won SONG OF THE YEAR at the 2012 Americana Music Awards & Honors.

 

Jason Isbell – Tour Dates

May 4  – Huntsville, AL – Crossroads Café

May 17 – Tulsa, OK –  Tulsa Mayfest

May 19 – Gulf Shores, AL –  Hangout Festival

May 22 – New York, NY – Stones Fest at Bowery Ballroom

May 23 – New York, NY – Stones Fest at Bowery Ballroom

June 6 – Bowling Green, KY – The Warehouse at Mt. Victor

June 7  – Louisville, KY – Iroquois Amphitheatre

June 13 – Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

June 14 – Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

June 15 – Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

June 16 – Croton-On-Hudson, NY – Clearwater Festival

June 19 – St. Louis, MO – Off Broadway

June 20  – Kansas City, MO – Crossroads

June 22 – Monterey, CA – Monterey Americana Music Fest

June 25 – Akron, OH – Musica

June 26 – Columbus, OH – Skully’s

June 27 – Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark

June 30 – Charleston, WV – Culture Center Theater

July 1 – Alexandria, VA – The Birchmere

July 2 – Raleigh, NC Lincoln Theatre

July 3 – Charlotte, NC – Visulite Theatre

July 5 – Charleston, SC – Pour House

July 26 – Floyd, VA – Floydfest

July 27 – Newport, RI – Newport Folk Festival

Aug 9 – Wilkes-Barre, PA – Kirby Center

Jason Isbell to release ‘Southeastern’ in June

Southeastern, the new solo album from Jason Isbell, will be released on June 11 via Southeastern Records/Thirty Tigers. Southeastern contains 12 new Isbell compositions and the most personal songs of self-reflection and discovery he has written to date.

The lyrics of the beautiful and haunting opening track “Cover Me Up”, make it immediately apparent that Isbell is speaking from an entirely new viewpoint. The song features his strongest vocals to date, but also kicks the door to his soul wide open for all to see. Isbell struggled, fought his demons and has remained sober for over a year now. Also, he was recently married and has entered the next chapter of his life. However, Southeastern is not an album preaching sobriety, but a work of repentance, self-realization and most importantly, personal growth.

By no means is Southeastern a wholly solemn offering. Tracks such as “Stockholm” (with Kim Richey) and “Traveling Alone” (with Amanda Shires) offer laid back tempos and memorable choruses, while “Flying Over Water” and “Super 8” are strong reminders of Isbell’s deep roots in rock. The poetic and deeply intimate lyrics are the common thread that runs throughout the album, perhaps no better illustrated than on “Live Oak”. “There’s a man who walks beside me, he is who I used to be / and I wonder if she sees him and confuses him with me / and I wonder who she’s pining for on nights I’m not around / could it be the man who did the things I’m living down.”

Southeastern features 400 Unit members Derry deBorja (keyboards) and Chad Gamble (drums) along with Richey and Shires. The album was produced by Dave Cobb (Jamey Johnson, The Secret Sisters). Southeastern is Isbell’s first solo album since his 2007 debut Sirens of the Ditch.

Since then he has recorded three acclaimed albums (two studio, one live) with his band The 400 Unit. 2011’s Here We Rest became Isbell’s most celebrated effort to date, cracking the top 100 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart for the first time. Here We Rest received high praise from a wide range of media, including NPR, Associated Press, Esquire, GQ, SPIN, USA Today, Blurt, My Old Kentucky Blog and many more. Since the release, Isbell has made two appearances with the 400 Unit on The Late Show with David Letterman and his song “Alabama Pines” won SONG OF THE YEAR at the 2012 Americana Music Awards & Honors.