Seeing Jason Isbell perform for the second time tonight. I almost didn’t buy tickets – stupid, I know! – in an attempt to be fiscally responsible and see if any freebies or friend offers came may way. But last night, with neither of those plausible chances coming to fruition, I made sure to secure myself a seat and I’ll be there in six hours or so, on the third deck of the Benedum Center balcony, so I can hear the genius Isbell and beautiful Amanda Shires play the highlights.
There’s a 110 percent chance I’m leaving in tears, the quiet, hot kind that you try to hide but can’t stop because you’d rather feel through your emotion than lock it up for the sake of saving face. Something about his songs – both melodies and words – cuts to the quick of what moving songs are supposed to do. He can channel the heartfelt without overplaying its effect. He can evoke memories you never knew you had. Few artists in this wide open music scene have the literary way with words that has made Isbell’s records such a classic —
“I’ll throw rocks at your window from the street
And we’ll call ourselves the flagship of the fleet.”
Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free
–not to mention the things he can do to a guitar, extending solos into mini-epics, playing each note a little clearer, a little truer, a little longer than the last. Hearing him for a couple hours tonight promises a respite from the rest of the world, just as it was last February, just as his albums from my speakers provide the most solid soundtrack, appealing to the better parts of my taste and humanity.
“It’s a strange thing to write a love song,” he said during a live session on WYEP today.
Strange, but beautiful.