Jason Isbell ‘Southeastern’

Posted 15 Aug 2019 in Albums of 2013, Albums of the 10s, Americana


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#1011 in the Series) is Jason Isbell, Southeastern.

Well, this one has kinda taken me by surprise to be honest.

As a long-time admirer of both Jason Isbell and his former band Drive By Truckers I really thought I had him pegged and that I knew pretty much what to expect from anything he’d release next: good, solid  Americana fare with maybe three or four exceptional songs on each album. I have to say however that he’s proved me wrong with Southeastern, this time out he’s offered up a complete gem of an album, full of wonderfully personal songs, straight from the heart, sparkling and emotive. He’s taken it to the next level with this one; it’s powerful and affecting material.

•    •    •    •    •

Jason first came to my attention when he joined Drive By Truckers back in 2001, just as they were about to go on tour supporting their Southern Rock Opera as third guitarist. He pretty soon proved himself to be a damn fine singer and songwriter also, contributing some excellent songs to the bands next few albums notably Outfit, “Danko/Manuel” and, one of the very best songs the band ever released, “Goddamn Lonely Love.”

During much of his time with the band their bass player, Shonna Tucker, also happened to be his wife but by 2007 they had split up and he’d left the band in a parting of the ways which maybe wasn’t quite as amicable as it was portrayed at the time.

He got his solo career up and running swiftly with Sirens Of the Ditch an album which included “Dress Blues” a beautifully bleak and poignant song, one of the best he’s ever written. Seek it out immediately. Two other albums followed and with 2011’s Here We Rest he produced a wonderful record which hinted that he may just be on the verge of some truly outstanding work. And now with Southeastern he’s reached a true peak, surely the very best album he’s been involved in thus far.

•    •    •    •    •

Two major events in his life seem to havejasonisballpic inspired him for these songs, he fell in love and got married, this time to fellow artist Amanda Shires and he also stopped drinking. These are major events, the echoes of which resonate throughout this collection. Opener “Cover Me Up,” a wonderful song, appears to address both issues at once:

“Days when we raged, we flew off the page and such damage was done / But I made it through cos somebody knew, I was meant for someone. / So girl leave your boots by the bed we ain’t leaving’ this room / Til someone needs medical help or the magnolia’s bloom”

It’s an immense opening gambit but Isbell can back it up, he follows it with a further eleven songs of similar strength and quality.

“Travelling Alone” finds him asking his love not to let him do that anymore, recorded with Amanda just two days before they were married apparently. “Super 8” is a rocking disparagement of life on the road and the shenanigans which ensue.

“Relatively Easy” laments the loss of a good friend along the way. A man who used to have “Nothing but the blue sky in his eyes” but who eventually couldn’t see clearly enough to find his way.

Absolutely wonderful stuff on this album, very strong songwriting throughout and it finds Isbell in fine voice and at the top of his game. I’ve been listening to it for a few months now and I just get more out of it each time. I’ve no doubt that he has many more works of such quality still to come, but I also feel that Jason will look back on this one as something he is very proud of, a career high point indeed.

– Stephen Dalrymple, Glasgow, ScotlandPlease-visit-and-LIKE-our-facebook-page

 Track Listing

  1. “Cover Me Up” 4:51jason-isbell-the-iguanas-
  2. “Stockholm” 2:49
  3. “Traveling Alone” 4:27
  4. “Elephant” 3:37
  5. “Flying Over Water” 3:58
  6. “Different Days” 3:34
  7. “Live Oak” 3:35
  8. “Songs That She Sang in the Shower” 3:56
  9. “New South Wales” 3:53
  10. “Super 8″ 3:25
  11. “Yvette” 4:28
  12. “Relatively Easy” 4:45


  • Jason Isbell – Primary Artist, Vocals, Guitar
  • Dave Cobb – Percussion, Producer
  • Brian Allen – Bass
  • Derry Deborja – Keyboards, Mellotron
  • Chad Gamble – Drums
  • Paul Griffiths – Drums on track 3
  • Will Johnson – Vocals on track 10
  • Kim Richey – Vocals on tracks 2 and 12
  • Amanda Isbell Shires – Fiddle and Vocals on track 3

Here it is in its entirety

Posted by Larry Carta

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