Jason Isbell is an artist with a history. Coming from Alabama Jason played with the band Drive-By Truckers till 2007, and ever since has taken the southern identity and infused it into his solo career. The music not only reaches people in the south but transcends to the masses. His connection is with the common folk, hard workers and regular people.
His most recent album Something More Than Free does the same thing. It goes in between stripped back sounds and a natural feel of “If it Takes a Lifetime” and the big electrifying sound of “Palmetto Rose”. In his first song of the record it’s a slowed down song that looks into a story of a blue collar worker who is working hard towards a reward that may not appear before his life is over.
Jason talked to Rolling Stone Country about the album. “The older you get, the more of your freedom you trade in, in order to have things around you that you care about.” “People spend so much time talking about freedom, and on one hand, that’s an illusion. I’m not free to go out and do whatever the hell I want, because I have a wife and she’s pregnant, and I really need to keep my shit together. So a lot of the focus of this record is about that. It’s about what you trade in to be happy. And I don’t feel like its complacency; it’s just adulthood.”
The album is played on by his longtime backup group whose members play fiddle, piano and electric guitar. They do a great job of adding to the song and not taking away from Jason’s vocals and acoustic playing. The album was produced by the producer that did his Americana award-winning album Southeast, Dave Cobb. Dave has recently worked on Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton albums. He was the son of a painter and still has the soul of a blue collar worker. The song “Something More Than Free” is a tribute to the generation of workers who are still chasing the American Dream.
He adds, “It’s a country song, not in the way that country songs sound like modern rock songs or hip-hop right now, but it’s got a country sounding melody, and the images are about work and family.”
The album is a great work of writing and is balanced with the old school natural traditional country American and rebel ragged edged southern blues.