Jason Isbell’s “Something More Than Free”

Remember two years ago when I wrote blog post after blog post about Jason Isbell’s Southeastern album? It’s ok. I know you don’t because despite how many times I’ve extolled my love of him and that album whenever I mention him to my friends they still stare at me with a blank look on their faces. You people have no idea what wonderful music you are missing out on.

Jason Isbell’s most recent album, Something More Than Free, was released this past Friday so I’m going to begin anew with extolling my love. Hopefully you people will come to your senses and listen to me this time. This isn’t actually Jason Isbell’s sophomore album. He’s been around a long time first as part of the Drive By Truckers and then putting out several solo albums, but Southeastern was the album that really made people sit up and take notice and really did seem like a turning point in his music. Therefore in my mind I was thinking of it a little like a sophomore album following a hit one, which is always a little worrisome. I loved Southeastern so much I feared that no matter how good it was there was no way that Something More Than Free would live up to the greatness of Southeastern or my expectations for the new album.

I really needn’t have worried. Every song on Something More Than Free is fantastic. I’ve already listened to it at least a dozen times at this point and would have listened more had my schedule allowed for me to actually be listening to music at any point in the last three days. Every time I listen I change my mind about which song is my favorite, which to me is the mark of a great album. There are plenty of albums I own that the same songs I gravitated towards the first time I listened to it are the only ones I wind up wanting to listen to, but with this one every song has been at the top of my list at some point. At this exact moment “The Life You Chose” and “Hudson Commodore” are really resonating with me, but ask me again tomorrow and I’ll probably tell you something different.

Jason Isbell is a brilliant musician and lyricist, so if you know what’s good for you you’ll listen to me this time and give this album a try and then go back and listen to Southeastern. I’ll be seeing him live at the Newport Folk Festival in a few days, and I can not wait to hear some of these songs played live.

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