Getting To Know Jason Isbell
When it was announced that Jason Isbell would be playing not one but TWO shows at the McGrath Amphitheater this October, I was over the moon excited! I shared the news on social media and got several "who's that" responses. I get it. Isbell isn't played on mainstream country radio, or any mainstream station for that matter. But make no mistake. He is one of the finest singer songwriters that any genre has to offer right now.
I discovered Jason Isbell back in 2017 after he and his backing group, the 400 Unit, released their album The Nashville Sound. It got a lot of attention for its amazing songwriting and one song in particular, 'If We Were Vampires'. The album was even nominated for a CMA Award for Album of the Year, proving that if anything, Isbell leans a bit country. The album ended up taking home two Grammy Awards and I was officially hooked on Jason Isbell.
After that, I dove into the Jason Isbell catalog. He began his career as a member of the group The Drive By Truckers. He left the group in 2007 to pursue a solo career. In 2013 he released Southeastern. The album is among the finest I've heard. Songs like Elephant, Traveling Alone, and the amazing Cover Me Up feature contemporary songwriting at its finest. In 2013 Isbell released Something More Than Free. It's another classic album full of great songs like 24 Frames and Speed Trap Town.
Isbell's current album is called Reunions, and it is fantastic. It is among my favorite albums of 2020. Songs like Dreamsicle, Only Children, and River will have you listening over and over again.
Jason's personal life has been filled with ups and downs too. He married Amanda Shires in 2013. Shortly after, friends and family held an intervention and Isbell checked into rehab to battle alcoholism. He doesn't hide his struggles in his songwriting. Its one more thing that endears him to his fans.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit with Amanda Shires plays this Friday and Saturday night in Cedar Rapids. Put your mask on, and a winter coat, and get to know one of the finest artists at his peak.