Something More Than Free (Southeastern)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Aug. 7, 2015
How to follow the supersized success of 2013's Southeastern? Sonically, fifth stab Something More Than Free fits neatly into Jason Isbell's folk, rock, and country, with the occasional emotional guitar outburst. Where Southeastern followed a stint in rehab, dealing with sobriety and the search for stability, here he tackles adult themes of the day-to-day. The 36-year-old Alabama native looks outside himself to what's left of the middle class and tells their tale with clarity and resonance, recalling the best work of John Prine or the late, great Southern author Larry Brown. Among them, the too-young mom in "Children of Children," the warehouse worker looking for redemption on "If It Takes a Lifetime," and the broke-down guests occupying an equally crumbling hotel in "Flagship." Wife Amanda Shire's fiddle prominent throughout, Something More Than Free offers further proof of Jason Isbell's preeminent acuity.