Jason Isbell makes heavy music that can be comforting. His tales of down-on-their luck characters are universal while still retaining his distinct vision. Isbell left a big mark in 2013 with Southeastern, chronicling his sobriety with openness and personality. It was a hard-fought victory, coming after years of standing in the shadow of his former band, the Drive-By Truckers.
There’s less of an overarching theme on Something More Than Free, out July 17. Instead, Isbell offers up complex character sketches with his simple phrasing. On “24 Frames,” the cinematic metaphor proves apt as he takes snapshots of a life unraveled. “You thought God was an architect/ Now you know he’s something like a pipe bomb/ Ready to blow,” he sings, a small realization with big consequences. Download a Studio 1A version of the song below.