Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.
This is the wikipedia definition of poetry.
I would argue that all poets are song writers. But not all songwriters are poets.
Jason Isbell is a poet.
I’ll admit I was worried about his new album. How do you follow up a work like Southeastern with its tight writing and subject matter? A work that opened up his life before and after re-hab and served it up like a confession. (Read my review here.)
Now to the particulars.
Let’s start with my favorite song on the album. Sped Trap Town is a story about living in small town America, sneaking “a bottle up the bleachers” to forget your name. The song is beautifully poignant and sad. It’s about family dysfunction (my favorite theme) and what is left in its wake. “I sign my name and say my last goodbye then realize, there’s nothing here that can’t be left behind,” Isbell sings and we all feel the hurt of that truth.
In 24 Frames, Isbell writes of the uncertainty of life. “You thought god was an architect now you know; he’s something like a pipe bomb waiting to blow.” Isbell performs the song on Conan O’Brian, here.
The title song, Something More Than Free, is an anthem for the working man. Listen to Isbell explain the song here.
All the songs on Isbell’s new offering are solid. No one can turn a phrase like Isbell. If you want to learn more about him, here’s the interview with Marc Maron on WTF.
There’s nothing more I can tell you about the record that Isbell can’t say better. Now, go and get Something More Than Free, and let me know what you think about Isbell’s work.