Alabama native Jason Isbell is the bluesy folk singer-songwriter that is the driving force behind his latest country rock effort, Southeastern. “Cover Me Up” starts things off for the 12-track full-length. It is a slow, sappy song about convincing a lover to come back to bed. Jason Isbell croons over acoustic strings in a raw, honest fashion with pedal steel elements fading in and out of the soundscape. A reoccurring undertone within this album appears to be this artist’s journey to sobriety, as the changes that come with it are described throughout Southeastern.
Track three, “Traveling Alone,” comes off initially as a standard slow rocker about loneliness, but at its bridge surprises the listener with an unexpected change in the chords and melody. Paired fittingly with the mid-song alteration is a subtle violin solo, staying true to the country-rooted influences of this record. This is a clear showcase of the atypical songwriting form of our musician. “Songs That She Sang In The Shower” tells the story of the aftermath of a breakup with subdued piano playing alongside Isbell’s guitar. A more traditional rock-oriented lead guitar line dominates the chorus of the number, but is balanced beautifully with a note descending melody repeating in the verse.
This vocalist is not an individual to ever really project his voice, but it works with this music and seems impacting just the same. The 10th cut, “Super 8,” is a fast-moving, basic rock ‘n’ roll song that sticks. The subject matter of the album discusses life and lessons learned. Jason Isbell’s songwriting distributes his advice as well as allows for a therapeutic outlet for his own issues. The personal nature of this record translates vividly, doing a justice to the country music community.