Jason Isbell


and if this version of the title track by Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires is any indication, the rest of the album is going to be unreal. The track below is goose-bump material. Shires’ fiddle playing is out of this world with the tones she produces. Here is some info on how this came to be and the track listing:

2014 marks the 30th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born In The U.S.A.’ Although it would become his biggest selling album with seven top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars says “any of those songs could be played with acoustic guitar alone and still be great.” Taking this idea as its premise, ‘Dead Man’s Town: A Tribute to Born in the U.S.A’ (out 9/16, Lighting Rod Records) strips the album’s twelve indelible originals to the core, with contributions from Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, Low, Nicole Atkins, Justin Townes Earle, Blitzen Trapper, Joe Pug, Trampled by Turtles, and more. Rolling Stone.com premiered Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires’ Dave Cobb-produced cover of “Born In The U.S.A,” saying these artists are “reimagining ‘Born in the U.S.A.’… with a reduced approach more influenced by that of the acoustic ‘Nebraska.

1. Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, “Born in the U.S.A.”
2. Apache Relay, “Cover Me”
3. Quaker City Nighthawks, “Darlington County”
4. Blitzen Trapper, “Working on the Highway”
5. Joe Pug, “Downbound Train”
6. Low, “I’m on Fire”
7. Holly Williams, “No Surrender”
8. Ryan Culwell, “Bobby Jean”
9. Trampled by Turtles, “I’m Goin’ Down”
10. Justin Townes Earle, “Glory Days”
11. Nicole Atkins, “Dancing in the Dark”
12. North Mississippi All-Stars, “My Hometown”

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Its always nice to have a musician that you have grown to love over the years hit a pinnacle so high that you feel the need to stop and tell strangers about it on the streets. Similar to Patterson Hood’s Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance or Phosphorescent’s Muchacho, Southeastern is the work of one of my favorite musicians hitting a pinnacle so high that you’ll soon finding yourself telling strangers about it as well.

One of the first times I encountered Jason Isbell was back during the Decoration Day tour. During that time, DBT would walk on stage with a Costco sized bottle of Jack and proceed to drain it. There was a point late in the evening where we was teetering with only the wall holding him up. Somehow, he stood up straight and nailed a version of Decoration Day that left the crowd speechless. You knew that at time, you were watching someone with a great future ahead of him; if he could keep his shit together.

Keeping his shit together is the central theme of Southeastern. Isbell has met the love of his life in Amanda Shires, is making the best music of his career and most important to him – is sober. The opening track, Cover Me Up, is an absolute stunning song (and one of 2013’s best). The way he combines themes of redemption and love gives me the chills every time I hear it.

The fact that he bookends that song with Relatively Easy which seems to point to a better future is not lost on me and is a nice touch. In between Southeastern is chock full of gems. Traveling Alone has Mrs. Isbell helping out on vocals and more importantly, playing her amazing fiddle. Flying Over Water has Isbell revisiting his Southern roots in the song that would sound the most natural on a DBT album. While Live Oak paints a dark tale in a murder ballad.

The cover of Southeastern is a simple picture of Isbell. Southeastern is a simple album in that there is no bullshit. It is an artist writing amazing songs and baring it all for us to see. If Muchacho is 2013’s #1 album, then Southeastern is 1A.


Roll Tide

by Woody on January 8, 2013

In honor of A.J. McCarron’s super-fine girlfriend Alabama’s thrashing of Notre Dame, here is Alabama’s finest doing Where The Devil Don’t Stay

And if you were like every other person in America, that didn’t go to Notre Dame or has a copy of Rudy on Betamax, and laid the points last night; well then you got some extra coin in your pocket. What better way to spend it than on some good ol’ Alabama boys. Cooley, Patterson and Isbell all have fantastic solo albums out now. Go buy them.

Cooley – The Fool On Every Corner

Patterson – Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance

Isbell – Live From Alabama

Isbell and Patterson’s are on sale for $5. Cooley’s holding out for $9. Buy all three and you’ll still have a little left over for a bottle of Jack. And in related news, our HearYa session with Patterson shall be out shortly.

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I recently delved into the Twitter world and found some of it fascinating and useful; other parts contrived and nonsensical. But I have Twitter to thank for finding Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires when The Futurebirds tweeted about how they were the best thing since sliced bread.

While I still might be partial to sliced bread, this album is awesome. And like The Futurebirds, it turns out that Lee Bains III had paid HearYa a visit while a member of The Dexateens for their live session. Simply put – this album sounds like Alabama. While I’ve never been to Alabama, I do like a lot of music that hails from The Heart of Dixie and Bains III proudly wears his heart (i.e. his Dixie flag) on his sleeve

So many times, I get caught up on the first couple of songs on a new album, mostly because I am feeble-brained with a moderate case of ADD, but on There Is A Bomb In Gilead, it’s the last three songs that sealed the deal. “Roebuck Parkway” is a great acoustic number that would fit in nicely on Jason Isbell’s Here We Rest. Robeuck Parkway is the main thoroughfare through Birmingham and the tune reminicses on his youth in Alabama.

Next up is “Opelika,” a straight up country soul tune that sounds like it was a penned on a hot day on some dilapidated porch in rural Alabama. Oz thought it sounded like some early J.J. Grey and Mofro and that is a very apt description. I can also hear his time with The Dexateens shining through here.

Last up is the title track which came about because a young Lee Bains III confused the word “balm” with “bomb” from the gospel tune, “There Is A Balm In Gilead.” While he may have had his words mistaken, he clearly was paying attention to the music as this tune drips with the gospel sound that is so prevalent in the bible belt of America.

If you like Drive-By Truckers, The Dexateens or Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, run to buy this. Send thank you emails to hearyablog@yahoo.com, tell me how fucking awesome I am in the comments section below, or tweet me @WoodyHearYa to have this come full circle.


Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit release Alabama Pines video

October 28, 2011

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Isbell about his latest album, Here We Rest, and it continues to hold up as one of my top 3 favorite albums of the year. It may be my top pick. My phone conversation with him is certainly one of my highlights of the year and restraining my […]

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Justin Townes Earles Wins Song of the Year

October 17, 2011

Justin Townes Earle took home song of the year at the 2011 Americana Music Awards for “Harlem River Blues.” It was a fitting end to what has been a long year back from an abyss filled with addictions, demons, rehab and redemption. I have met Justin a handful of times, including a Cubs game with […]

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An Interview With Jason Isbell – Here We Rest.

April 5, 2011

Jason Isbell was home in Alabama last week, taking a short-lived hiatus from touring. We sat down to talk about his new record, Here We Rest, which is supported by his band The 400 Unit and will be released next Tuesday, April 12th. The album is his best solo record and one of the finest […]

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Jason Isbell’s Codeine [new mp3, SxSW 2011]

March 14, 2011

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit are set to release Here We Rest on April 12th via Lighting Rod Records. I’ve had an advanced copy for months and it’s Isbell’s best solo effort to date. He and the band have offered up a first single entitled “Codeine,” available for download below. If you dig it, […]

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Justin Townes Earle performs on Letterman with Jason Isbell and Paul Shaffer

January 13, 2011

In case you missed it (like me), check out JTE and Isbell taking the Letterman stage together with Paul Shaffer.  Safe to say they crushed it and hopefully we’ll see more Isbell/Earle collaborations in the future. I absolutely love watching Jason Isbell play the guitar. On Justin’s list of achievements, I’d say “Letterman Performance” probably […]

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Jason Isbell w/ Langhorne Slim @ The Earl, Atlanta [Concert Review]

November 1, 2010

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit need to be witnessed in the South. I had seen Isbell with and without the 400 Unit in San Francisco before relocating, but the crowd wasn’t quite right and Isbell’s performance felt less genuine.  That was not the case last Friday night at The Earl in Atlanta. The ex-Drive-By […]

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