Jason Isbell

  • Americana, southern alternative rock singer and songwriter born in 1979 from Green Hill Alabama.
  • Isbell grew up in rural Alabama. His family would get together and play music every week. He learned to play the mandolin when he was 6, and he played trumpet and French horn in high school. He played in a country cover band when he was 14, and at 16, he played at the Grand Ole Opry. At 21, he signed with a publishing company to write music.
  • In 2001, he joined the alternative country rock band Drive-By Truckers, playing guitar and singing. He stayed with the band for 6 years, contributing songs for 3 studio albums. While with the band, their music grew in popularity – the final album that he contributed to, A Blessing and a Curse, made it to #50 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and to #3 on the Independent Albums chart.
  • He left the band in 2007 to start a solo career. His first solo studio album was released that year – Sirens of the Ditch. He followed this with 2 albums that credit his back-up band, The 400 Unit, in 2009 and 2011. These albums were favorably reviewed by critics, though sales were modest. His 2011 album Here We Rest included the song  Alabama Pines, which won Song of the Year from The Americana Music Honors & Awards.
  • Isbell’s fourth album, Southeastern, was released in 2013. He wrote it after going through rehab from alcohol dependency. It won 3 awards at the Americana Music Awards, and was praised by critics and artists, including Bruce Springsteen and John Prine. It peaked at #23 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
  • His 2015 album Something More Than Free peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart, and was #1 on the Top Country, Folk, and Top Rock Albums charts. It won a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album. Rolling Stone chose it as the best country album of 2015.
  • Isbell’s most recent album was released in June this year. Called The Nashville Sound, it also credits The 400 Unit. It debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 chart, and was #1 on the Indie, Country, Rock and Folk charts. It earned him his first nomination for a Country Music Association Award, for Album of the Year. It also won a Grammy, for Best American Album, and the single When We Were Vampires won the Grammy for Best American Roots Song.
  • His songs tell stories. USA Today calls him “one of the great American songwriters.” John Mayer was quoted as saying that Isbell is “the best lyricist of his generation.”
  • If you like an acoustic indie Americana sound, you should give Jason Isbell a listen. Or, if you like an indie alternative country rock sound, you should give Isbell a listen. If you like stereotypical country pop music, then you won’t like Isbell. But…it’s too bad for you then. He has a heavy tour schedule – if he’s in your neighborhood, go check him out. I was lucky enough to see him perform at Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver in September 2018. Here is his video of the song Traveling Alone. 

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