Something More Than Free
Country music longs for freedom. To be on the road and untethered, blown wherever by lonesome winds with nothing left to lose. As both a hard-partying member of Drive-By Truckers and an admired solo artist in his own right, Alabama-born singer-songwriter Jason Isbell often inhabited those outlaw American ideals—singing literary, bourbon-soaked songs about losing control. But when he emerged with 2013’s Southeastern, he was sober and married. His songs didn’t sound settled or reigned in; instead, they were clearer, funnier, more heartbreaking, and heavier with Isbell’s personal truths. Now an expectant father, Isbell’s latest LP Something More Than Free dwells deeper on themes of work, debt, and duty. But the album is sonically looser with the shuffling country soul of “If It Takes a Lifetime,” the chiming rock of “24 Frames,” and the slow-burn psychedelia of “Children of Children.” These days, Isbell sounds like a man determined not to lose the things he loves.