Jason Isbell: Sirens of the Ditch (New West/Elite)

 |   |  1 min read

Jason Isbell: Dress Blues
Jason Isbell: Sirens of the Ditch (New West/Elite)

True story: an advance CD copy of this album arrived at my place about six months ago and I lost it down the back of the bookcase. A fortnight ago I watched the new Drive-By Truckers album (see tag) slide through the same gap and in the course of rescuing it came upon this -- the debut solo album by a former Trucker who quit last year.

Coincidence? I think not.

Singer-guitarist Isbell is a song writer -- that is someone in love with words and narratives -- and here he kicks of with a ragged Stones-style riff-hard track which seems to refer to the woman killed at Phil Spector's mansion from Phil's skewed view (Brand New Kind of Actress) and later he delivers an aching narrative about a high school friend killed in Iraq (Dress Blues) and another about his grandfather.

Recorded at Muscle Shoals and with guests like Spooner Oldham, various Truckers, and co-produced by Trucker Patterson Hood, this starts as a rock album but quickly heads more into an alt.country area in a series of literate and thoughtful, soul-infused ballads.

There is swamp funk here (Down in a Hole), abrasive blues-rock (Try), the spirit of Gram Parsons/Ryan Adams, some torch-song country blues on Hurricanes and Hand Grenades . . .

This probably won't be the best solo album Isbell makes but it'll do more than very nicely for now.

If intelligent alt.country and/or the Truckers -- and especially the Truckers' slightly difficult new album -- mean anything to you then don't let this Isbell album slip through your grasp

As it did mine carelessly for too long.

Share It

Your Comments

Chris - Dec 19, 2008

Ex Drive-By Trucker breaks free of the restrictions of his former band on this his solo debut. The quality of the songwriting is superb, with 'Dress Blues' being one of the most poignant commentaries on how war affects peoples'lives. Poppier and, as a result, easier to listen to than the Truckers magnus-opus made this one of my 'most-listened' to albums of 2008.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

The Seeds: Singles As and Bs 1065-1970 (Big Beat/Border)

The Seeds: Singles As and Bs 1065-1970 (Big Beat/Border)

Elsewhere's advocacy of power pop and garageband rock (especially Sixties stuff) is well documented . . . so this collection of  24 songs by the legendary Seeds out of  LA was always... > Read more

Sayulee: April Fool (Pure)

Sayulee: April Fool (Pure)

Elsewhere has a habit of getting in quickly when it comes to new music, but I'm sure some subscribers have caught this Japanese-born,Kiwi-bred singer-songwriter in her low-key live appearances in... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Diabat, Morocco: And the wind cries, Jimi

Diabat, Morocco: And the wind cries, Jimi

A few kilometres south of the busy and breezy port town of Essaouira on Morocco's Atlantic coast is the dusty village of Diabat, famous for one thing. In mid 1969, Jimi Hendrix didn't go there.... > Read more

SEDUCED BY SOUND: Let your passion be your passport

SEDUCED BY SOUND: Let your passion be your passport

In his readable and funny Autobiography, Rod Stewart said when he was young his dad told him he needed three thing in life: a job, a sport and a hobby. Rod has singing, soccer and model... > Read more