TAS Super LP List! Special Merit: Informal
180 Gram Virgin Vinyl! Former Member of Drive-By Truckers!
Gripping, Personal & Powerful! Rich Storytelling! A Demanding Breakthrough!
Almost all of Isbell’s family, except his parents, were musicians, and his father was an avid music listener. After some work as a songwriter, in 2001, Isbell joined the rock band Drive-By Truckers while they toured in support of their album Southern Rock Opera. Isbell recorded and wrote with the Truckers for their next three albums, and for most of this time was married to Shonna Tucker, who joined the band as a bassist after Isbell. The two later divorced.
On April 5, 2007, Isbell announced that he was no longer a member of Drive-By Truckers. The following day, Patterson Hood confirmed the break on the band’s official site. In his letter to the fans, Hood described the parting of ways as “amicable” and expressed the hope that fans would continue to support Drive-By Truckers as well as Jason’s solo efforts.
Jason Isbell released his first solo album, Sirens of the Ditch, on July 10, 2007. Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit’s eponymous album was released on February 17, 2009, on Lightning Rod Records. Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit is Isbell’s second solo release and his first release with his band The 400 Unit. They released their second album, Here We Rest, on April 12, 2011, on Lightning Rod Records. The album was produced and recorded by the band themselves. In the Spring 2012, Isbell supported singer-songwriter Ryan Adams on the latter’s acoustic European tour. Southeastern is Jason’s fourth studio album.
“Jason Isbell was established as a force when his old band, Drive-By Truckers, made a name for itself years ago. Unfortunately, his rise accompanied a descent into addiction. He battled it for years before carefully turning over a new leaf a struggle and pursuit he chronicles beautifully on his new solo album, Southeastern. There, Isbell sheds a few layers of clothing and skin in order to bare an earnest, sober soul. Part repentance, part damn good songwriting, the disc doesn’t lack high points. But ‘Live Oak’ is where the complexity of surmounting addiction comes to a head. The opening lines alone are enough to slay: ‘There’s a man who walks beside me and he’s who I used to be / I wonder if she sees him and confuses him with me.'” – Kim Ruehl, NPR, Heavy Rotation: 10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing
“To his considerable credit, Isbell has very little interest in recounting his long fall or his darkest moments. This album doesn’t wallow in alcoholic squalor; its real subject is not what it means to hit rock bottom, but what happens after you pick yourself up… Isbell the storyteller knows this is rich subject matter, as the day-to-day conflict of not taking that next drink or not falling back into old ways proves much more compelling and humanizing than the non-conflict of simply bottoming out. That approach makes Southeastern his most gripping and his most personal album to date… As a storyteller, he has a generous empathy toward the people inhabiting his songs, most of whom display a hard-won humanity despite the extremes of their situations… Southeastern is easily Isbell’s best solo album– his most richly conceived and generously written.” – Stephen M. Deusner, Pitchfork, Rated 7.7
“Each of Isbell’s solo records has made mincemeat of its predecessor, and the same goes for this one, his fourth since 2007’s messy divorce from both Southern-rock icons Drive-By Truckers and their bassist, Shonna Tucker; it’s also his first since sobering up and marrying Texas singer/fiddler Amanda Shires. That’s a lot of emotional freight, and the result courses through these songs with excitement for new love and regret for past misdeeds… Isbell is among the finest lyricists working today, excelling at wordplay in the purest sense of the term, finding the music in language, how it sounds and flows and fits within the surrounding sounds.. It’s the little details that ring truest, one true line after another.” – David Menconi, SPIN, Rated 8/10
“This album is harrowing and not for the timid, but those who stick with it will be treated to a truthful, moving journey and a master class in songwriting to boot… The absence of the 400 Unit means that Isbell is sticking mainly to acoustic guitars here, with the occasional fiddle (provided by wife Amanda Shires) or slide guitar adding atmosphere… The versatility displayed on the album, produced by David Cobb, is stunning.” – Jim Beviglia, American Songwriter, Rated 4.5/5 Stars
“The record, which evokes powerful and intimate classics like Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Tunnel of Love’ and Rosanne Cash’s ‘Interiors,’ is a breakthrough for Isbell prickly with loss, forgiveness, newfound sobriety and second chances…” – Dwight Garner, New York Times
“I’ll tell you how much I love these people: I once drove all the way to Montana to see them play. It was tremendous.” – David Letterman
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