Jason Isbell Album Reviews

Jason Isbell joined Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley as a guitarist and vocalist in acclaimed Southern Rock band, The Drive-By Truckers, in 2002. He immediately impressed with songs like ‘Outfit’, which details his father’s advice to him upon joining the band (“Don’t worry about losing your accent, a southern man tells better jokes.”). Divorcing Truckers’ bassist Shonna Tucker, Isbell left the band in 2007, and started a solo career.

Isbell’s first three solo albums were with backing band The 400 Unit. I’ve heard these, but haven’t taken to them as strongly as his later career; they often feel like Isbell is coasting and not fulfilling his potential.

In 2013, a newly sober Isbell released Southeastern, a collection of songs that were personal and more stripped down than his early albums. Southeastern and 2015’s Something More Than Free are both use country music as the medium to convey an emotional punch that’s not contrived, and to tell empathetic stories. If you’re convinced that modern music isn’t producing great songwriters, Isbell’s strong evidence to the contrary, producing work that’s heartfelt and timeless.

Ten Best Jason Isbell Songs

(I’m leaving a few spots open, since I’ll come back and cover his first three albums sometime, and because he’s still producing strong work).
Flying Over Water
Relatively Easy
24 Frames
Elephant
Something More Than Free
To A Band I Loved