Review: Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free

4.5 OUT OF 5 NUTS!

jasonisbell-somethingmorethanfreeJason Isbell’s newest record is really damn good. It’s like “creep under your skin and lay eggs” good. The more I listen to it, the more his brand of alternative country seems to make sense/feed off my nutrients. Isbell incorporates the rough-and-tumble country rock of artists like Uncle Tupelo and Steve Earle while still maintaining an air-tight ear for pop hooks. These  songs will haunt your late-night insomniac sessions, but also make you chuckle with their Costello-esque wit.

I don’t keep liquor here

Never cared for wine or beer

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And workin’ for the county keeps me pissin’ clear

If you want authentic details, here they are. Isbell is a former loose cannon that has considerably cleaned up his act in recent years. I don’t generally advocate that people stop doing drugs, but it seems to be working well for Jason Isbell. In Something More Than Free, he delivers an album for the ages, a perfect marriage of tattoo-country and pop. Isbell explores all aspects of country-rock territory within the space of this relatively short record.

When “How to Forget” pleads for the ability to unlearn a lesson, to undo a harsh truth of reality, you can truly tap into the ache that drives this record. This is shaggy country pop, to be sure, but it occupies the territory of real emotion. Isbell’s voice betrays his years of hard living, both as a member of a touring band and a human male. By the time we get to late-act showstopper “The Life You Chose,” we’re already totally on board with Isbell’s total deconstruction of everything that we feel makes us into adults. Have we been living this adult life irresponsibly? Did we blow it?  Is there a better way for us to live our lives? My Lord, I hope not.

It’s a testament to Jason Isbell’s power as a songwriter that he can provoke all these emotions within around 45 minutes. But then, albums like this don’t come around so much. Mark my words, dear readers. When I inevitably make a list of best 2015 records, Jason Isbel will make the Top 5 in all possible realities. If I am wrong, then please send rotten fish to my parents. Address to follow.

4 comments to “Review: Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free”
  1. Pingback: John Mayer just called Jason Isbell “the best lyric writer of my generation” | Rocknuts

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