The two were married shortly after the record was completed.The strength of the songs at the heart of “Southeastern,” most of them starkly acoustic, confirms Isbell’s return to form in every conceivable way.
Isbell’s guitar skills, equal parts Doc Watson and Duane Allman, simply confirmed his place at the forefront of a new vanguard of songwriters that includes the likes of James Mc Murtry and Justin Townes Earle.
Unfortunately, as he gained acclaim for his craft, Isbell also acquired a reputation as a mean and frequent drunk, a condition that may have had some bearing on the disappointingly uneven quality of the material he recorded prior to his most recent album, “Southeastern,” released during the summer of 2013.
On too many of the albums he’s recorded since leaving the Truckers and going through a very public divorce with that band’s former bassist, Isbell has seemed like a man fighting against the natural current of his own talent, jumping from one genre to the next in hopes of finding a voice free from his former associations with southern folk and rock music.
Having written two of the finest songs of the 21st century, the aforementioned “Outfit,” and “Decoration Day” within his first two weeks of joining the Truckers and then following up those efforts with songs of nearly equal potency for the band, Isbell seemed to struggle with the weight of expectations as a solo act, unable to carry an entire album or commit to a unified vision for his increasingly mediocre music.
With the release of “Southeastern,” however, all of the setbacks, all the compromises and confused detours, have simply fallen away.
“Southeastern” has been hailed as Isbell’s “sober album,” the first set of songs he’s composed since putting down the bottle nearly a year ago.The album is also clearly the work of a man revitalized by love, offering hints of Isbell’s relationship with fellow musician and songwriter Amanda Shires.Here's a cool little feature on what for the past 14 years or so has been the opening theme song of my Sunday night radio show Terrell's Sound World on KSFR -- Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres. Tex Edwards.)interview that their original inspiration for the song had been Dylan's `Subterranean Homesick Blues,' which they regarded as a goof masquerading as something profound This gives me an excuse to reprint Chuck Eddy's thoughts on this song:"In 1967, The Hombres, a Memphis garage-frat foursome with blood-alcohol levels too high to drive, had a one-shot rap hit with "Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)." It opens with what almost sounds like a digital sample, namely a preacher railing against, "John Barleycorn, nicotine, and the temptations of Eve." Then somebody farts, then a guitar riff taken from the Shadow of Knights' "Gloria" kicks in, and is repeated hip-hop style through the entire song.The singer anticipates what Beck would sound like in the distant future by drawling a ridiculous Dylan parody that compares Galileo with an Eagle Scout and warns against parking near sewer signs. I had all but written off Jason Isbell, the former Drive-By Truckers guitarist/singer-songwriter who embarked on a solo career in 2007.During the six years he spent with the Truckers, Isbell, barely out of his teens when he joined, proved himself to be one of the most talented musical artists of his generation—a young man possessed of a parched, weary voice who composed songs with the somber intelligence and dark, compressed detail of the finest southern short story writers.