the exquisitely southern songwriting of jason isbell

Jason Isbell, seriously. I swoon. He’s a songwriter/guitarist/musician from north Alabama, and I can’t stop listening to two albums: Southeastern (2013) and The Nashville Sound, which he recorded with his band The 400 Unit in 2017.

Tales of heartbreak, drunken lovers, separation, and recovery litter his songwriting, and I relish every piece of debris, each musical note. Here he is performing “Cover Me Up” at Austin City Limits, which was recorded in December 2013:

And another–“If We Were Vampires”–which was recorded in 2017:

Isbell is quite the comeback kid, if a 39-year-old can be considered a kid. Early in his career he played with Drive-By Truckers and was on a one-way road to self-annihilation. I mean, each time he played live with the Drive-By Truckers, he was totally bombed. As he told a National Public Radio interviewer in 2013:

I had it timed where, by the very end of the show, I’d done just about all I could do standing up. I knew I needed two or three [drinks] before I went on, and then during the show, we’d just pass a bottle [of Jack Daniels] around between the band.

He’s since cleaned up, struck out on his own as an artist, and enjoys fans and supporters here in the Deep South and elsewhere–elsewhere as in everywhere. I had the chance to see him and the 400 Unit perform at Thalia Mara in Jackson last year, and it was an exceptional evening. Highly recommend.