Jason Isbell’s “Something More Than Free”

Admittedly, I am a casual Drive By Truckers listener.  I know about Patterson and Isbell, and I do enjoy their music.  I have been to shows, and I have all their albums (via Spotify), but they have never made a dent in my rotation.  While this may not be relevant, it’s important to bring this up before I start talking about Jason Isbell’s new album “Something More Than Free”.

Jason Isbell released “Southeastern” in mid 2013, and it took about a week to be proclaimed the best album of the year.  I 100% agreed, and this is coming from said non-DBT guy.  I was blow away by the honesty, the grit, and the feeling of that record.  At this point I know all the words, and still listen to it quite a bit.  I saw Isbell twice on the “Southeastern” tour, and regard his live performances as a reflection of his talent as an artist and songwriter.

“Something More Than Free” picks up right where “Southeastern” left off.  It checks all the boxes.  I listened to the album three times last Friday, and it got better each spin.  Isbell seems to feel much more comfortable in his own skin on “Something More Than Free”.  The bookends have been widened a bit since “Southeastern”, as evidence by a little more country and a little more rock.  The album has a great feel; the gritty, melodic Isbell sound that is like a pair of old boots and jeans.  Lyrically it’s as good as any of his previous stuff – unexpected but very honest.  In time, I believe this album will go down as better than “Southeastern”, but only because of a more general appeal.

Appropriate Listening When:

  • Driving home from work.
  • Cooking out.
  • Working on Powerpoint presentations.
  • Night-capping

Elevator Speech: “If you liked “Southeastern”, you’ll love “Something More Than Free”.  Between Isbell and Sturgill, there might be hope for modern country music…

What do you think?



  1. Jacob
    07/21/2015 / 7:19 PM

    Isbell’s work as a solo artist only reaffirms how valuable he was to DBT’s songwriting prowess. DBT has never been the same post Isbell’s departure.

    Not a bad Twitter follow either. Big Braves fan.

  2. JNN
    07/21/2015 / 10:35 PM

    I’m coming from the other end of the spectrum re: perspective on the music. I’m a huge DBT fan and have been following Isbell’s solo career since the beginning. I’ve seen DBT 20+ times and Isbell solo 20+ times, from a few dozen people in a dive bar to several thousand at recent shows.

    I absolutely love about half of “Something More Than Free.” The other half of it doesn’t speak to me as much as some of his earlier work, especially musically. Some of his sound is moving away from soul, R&B, and rock and more towards folk – a move that doesn’t fit my tastes – but that’s OKAY 🙂

    SMTF is full of great songwriting, phrasing, perspective, and personal growth. On the whole, it’s probably my least favorite of all of Isbell’s solo work. But it’s an outstanding album nonetheless.

    My favorite cuts: “If It Takes a Lifetime,” “24 Frames,” “Something More Than Free,” and “Palmetto Rose.”

  3. Owen
    07/22/2015 / 1:00 AM

    DBT’s best songwriter is Mike Cooley. Always has been. Incredible stuff. I like Jason but DBT in their prime was better than what either he or the rest of the band has done without the others.

  4. Jeff Griffin
    08/12/2015 / 4:56 PM

    Isbell. Sturgill. Add to the list the incomparable Chris Stapleton. Check out his twitter feed for an awesome picture of Bill Murray singing along at the concert in Charleston.

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