“And I don’t think on why I’m here where it hurts
I’m just lucky to have the work
Sunday morning I’m too tired to go to church
But I thank God for the work.”
~Something More Than Free
Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free
I feel like I don’t yet have the words or links to properly explain how incredible and memorable the new Jason Isbell record is, but I am going to briefly try. I haven’t stopped listening to the NPR stream and can’t wait for the 17th when it gets released so I can play it with me all the time. I didn’t even want to leave my house earlier this afternoon, because I couldn’t play it in the car. It’s patient, lush and heavy, sad and reflective and profound. My favorite song changes each listen. Right now it’s “Life You Chose.”
Each song is a story, and what an incredible storyteller he is. I could not be more satisfied by this record as a fan, and I could not be more impressed and inspired a writer. This record also has a lot more guitar solos and full band compositional moments than “Southeastern,” it feels like, with choices made in keeping with the whole scope of the song, and you the listener can just get lost in how well it all comes together. The overall vibe is still his brand of folksy Americana, with classic-sounding melodies, fluid twang and hushed tones – it is warm, it is cool, it is supple and resilient.
Lyrically, Isbell is a modern master of the craft. He cuts to the heart of the it every time, whether it is love or regret or self-satisfaction, with just enough detail to give every feeling its corresponding setting. The chorus in “24 Frames” is still the greatest thing I’ve heard all year. The first verse of “Flagship” is so devastating and,perfect, not to mention the hopeful rescue of the chorus; the whole song has so much resolve and that soft, billowing organ accompaniment is sheer, subtle brilliance. I love this record. I am so glad it’s here. I needed it, in the way you sometimes need something completely new and outside yourself to dig into and and hold onto and get lost in. Helps you get by. This is all I can say, as words so often fail to do justice to the greatest things we hold. But, as Isbell shows us time and time again, what a glorious thing it is to try.