Jason Isbell – Southeastern
What can I say about this album that hasn’t already been said in any one of the highly acclaimed reviews?
Isbell is an architect of words; Southeastern is a monument of carefully constructed stories that spill from his soul, etched with perfect time and rhyme. The album has an acoustically delicate and modest sound but is a solid conduit to pure emotion. Isbell has a gift to delineate stories seeping with sentiment.
Listeners will effortlessly become wrapped up in poignant songs ‘Cover Me Up’, one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. ‘Songs That She Sang in the Shower’ is a close second and has a vaguely familiar Ryan Adams feel to it. ‘Yvette’ and ‘Elephant’ both have the capacity to bring on tears. Southeastern is a poetically polished treasure.
Much of what I have recently read online in response to the new album attempts to connect the success of the new album back to Isbell’s admitted sobriety. There is little question that drugs and alcohol often spark, if not fuel, creativity for some artists but here stands substantial proof of a genuinely gifted artist’s ability to create regardless of external catalysts.
The road to the recovery is paved with challenges. It is a courageous, commendable journey with no destination. One of my favorite alcoholism recovery quotes is “Religion is for people who are afraid to go to hell; spirituality is for people who have already been there.” Isbell’s ability to convey deep pain through his songs might suggest he has been there and back.
Southeastern is a stunning, raw glimpse inside Isbell’s soul and the accolades are well-deserved. It is an oasis in a world that watches music but rarely listens.