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Jason Isbell – Reunions

May 25, 2020

If there was an algorithm based on my taste, Jason Isbell would be a top suggestion. However, I wasn’t a fan, but it looks like Reunions may change that.  Isbell checks a lot of my boxes:

  • He is a little bit country, what we used to call country rock or southern rock and today we call roots, Americana or alt-country
  • He is a singer-songwriter
  • He is a great guitarist
  • He is a brilliant live performer (I saw him in a double feature – I was there for Father John Misty)

Somehow, I have not caught Isbell fever, until now. So what happened? Well seeing him live last summer was a good start. Recently I heard one of the teaser singles: “What’ve I Done To Help,” on the radio and it stopped me in my tracks. Then I heard him interviewed by Rick Rubin on Broken Record.  So I gave the new album a receptive listen and I liked it – more than liked it – I loved it. 

What do I like? The album reminds me of the 70s era Jackson Browne – in the lyrics, the country-rock arrangements, and overall emotional tone. He has a unique soulful country voice – a touch of Greg Allman in his tone. He shreds on the guitar, but in service of the song – he is not showing off. He tells concrete stories in his songwriting. He has not turned a corner – I could say this about all his albums (I have been backtracking through his catalog). But for some reason Reunions really resonates with me.  

Reunions has so many great lines and images:

  • Regarding drinking: “It gets easier but it never gets easy”
  • Remembering childhood: “A dreamsicle on a summer night in a folding chair/Witch’s ring around the moon/Better get home soon”
  • Marrying off a daughter: “It’s easy to see that you’ll get where you’re going/The hard part is letting you go”

Now that I have the Isbell bug, I am looking forward to digging into his catalog.  Reunions is going to be one of my summer of 2020 jams.  


From → Music Reviews

One Comment
  1. I think he improved markedly when he got sober before his fourth album.

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