I can’t listen to everything all at once, so I just got around to getting the new Jason Isbell record, Sirens of the Ditch, and it’s fantastic. For those of you who don’t know, Jason Isbell was one of the central singer/songwriters who made up the Drive-By Truckers until April of this year when he quit. I was a little sad to hear he’d split from the DBTs, but if it means more albums like this one, and more tours with his new fantastic band, The 400 Unit, then it’s worth it. As far as I’m concerned, the DBTs that are around today, led by Patterson Hood, are still a good band–But they ain’t as good as they were with Jason. Jason’s solo record, Sirens of the Ditch, is actually better than any DBT album. Perhaps it’s because it has lots of Truckers on it: Patterson Hood helped produce and makes an appearance (as does his dad!); Shonna Tucker and Brad Morgan play on it; and so does Spooner Oldham, a DBT affiliate . . .
The songs were recorded while he was still with the band, and many of the songs have that vintage Trucker sound: Aggressive fuzzy guitar and growling vocals. But Jason deftly switches from electric to acoustic guitar, plays alone or with a band behind him, and even tickles the ivories. Lyrically, the record has more songs than stories, which I prefer. I’m not a Drive-By Truckers fanatic (although I absolutely love “Southern Rock Opera,” Jason’s first record with them), mostly because I tire of Patterson’s long stories. The narratives are interesting and all, but they make it harder to appreciate on repeat listens (that’s just my opinion).
Sirens of the Ditch is officially one of my favorite 2007 releases. Here’s a few cuts from the album, played live.
Chicago Promenade (8.24.07 Nashville)
Dress Blues (acoustic) (8.24.07)
In a Razor Town (acoustic) (8.24.07)
Hurricanes and Handgrenades (7.13.07)
In honor of how fucking brilliant this record is, I’m throwing up J’s work all week. Stay tuned.