Sunday, 30 December, 2007 12:03 PM
CMA New Artist Spotlight: Jason
BY TRENT MCGINN AND HILARY WASH
West recording artist Jason Isbell.
2007 CMA Close Up News Service
There are already plenty
of Jason Isbell fans who have come to appreciate his writing, singing
and playing within a three-guitar attack during his run with Southern
rock mainstay Drive-By Truckers. These listeners will hear something
different in his solo debut on New West Records, Sirens of the Ditch:
11 original songs written by Isbell that add up to a more personal
sound, with a wider range of emotion and a subtle sense of exhilaration
that comes from striking out on your own.
This last quality is
evident from the first seconds of the opening track and single,
"Brand New Kind of Actress," with its no-nonsense drum
beat and grungy guitar hook. His voice, rough and dusty as a Country
road winding outside his hometown of Muscle Shoals, ties the diverse
elements of the album together and brings each lyric to life, whether
through reciting a mournful paean for young lives lost in "Dress
Blues" or evoking classic R&B balladry on "Hurricanes
and Hand Grenades."
Raised in a musical family
in one of America's most musical towns, Isbell grew up in a community
that was used to seeing Duane Allman, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding
and other giants pull up to FAME Studios, also where Isbell recorded
his album, to lay tracks with David Hood and Spooner Oldham, local
guys who happened to be members of one of the hottest studio rhythm
sections on Earth. They're among the artists who appear on Sirens
of the Ditch too - a gesture that says as much about the endurance
of soulful music in northern Alabama as it does about Isbell's right
to a place within that tradition.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
Who is your musical
"Neil Young. He always seems to do exactly what he wants."
What book is on your
"I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, by Crystal Devon (Warren Zevon bio)."
What song do you
wish you had written?
"'Room at the Top,' by Tom Petty. I'm glad I didn't have to
go through what he was dealing with when he wrote it, though. That's
usually the case with my favorites."
What phrase do you
find yourself saying over and over again?
What mode of transportation
do you prefer?
"Prevost XLIIs with a Ducati in the trailer."
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