Concert Review: Jason Isbell, August 2, Lee’s Palace

jason isbell

Back in his days as a member of Drive By Truckers, Jason Isbell consistently put out some of my favourite songs from that band. This is no slight on Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, but Isbell’s songwriting and storytelling on songs like “Outfit,” “Decoration Day,” and “Goddamn Lonely Love” always struck a chord with me. It was disappointing then, that up until his latest release, Southeastern, I never really connected much with his solo output. I’m glad to say that the new album finds him in fine form.

At one point during his set, Isbell thanked the crowd for appreciating the new stuff and not just going to “get a beer or go for a piss or go outside and hail a cab,” but by my estimation, the new stuff is some of his strongest material yet.

Strong songwriting, yes, but Isbell’s not necessarily known for always writing the happiest of tunes. After realizing that he may have left some lyrics out of one song that seemed to go by a bit too quick, Isbell joked that he did that on purpose so we could insert whatever lyrics we wanted to instead, something happy to counteract his “sad-ass” lyrics, like maybe something about ice cream or ponies. And yes, it’s true, Isbell does write a lot of “sad-ass” songs, but he’s pretty damn good at it. For proof of this, just listen to “Elephant.” It’s heartbreaking, but brilliantly so.

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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