Something More Than Free

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Alabama native Jason Isbell blends raspy tenderness and a melodic twang to sing of fallen dreams, hard luck, and working-class resilience. Winner of multiple Americana Music Awards in 2014, Isbell’s musical style fits mostly into the roots and alt-country genres, yet his band will blend pop country hooks with startling electric guitar solos.

At times compared to Bob Dylan, Isbell is best on this album when he describes the slow road to personal recovery: “I fight the urge to live inside my phone. I keep my spirits high. Find happiness by and by. If it takes a lifetime.”

The songs often express a longing for wholeness, as in the title track: “The day will come, I’ll find a reason. Somebody proud to love a man like me. My back is numb and my hands are freezing, but what I’m working for is something more than free.” Isbell is a first-rate artist who challenges the listener through his varied musical style and thought-provoking lyrics. (Southeastern Records)

About the Author

Otto Selles teaches French at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich., and attends Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.