Last year, while commenting on the Drive-By Truckers (DBT) album Brighter Than Creation's Dark I referenced Jason Isbell's departure from DBT by saying: "the post-Jason Isbell hangover is evident..." With the release of Seven-Mile Island, Isbell's second post-DBT album, I finally get to comment on the other side of the split. In a similar fashion and styling to Isbell's 1st post-DBT release, the stellar Sirens Of The Ditch (2007), Seven-Mile Island intermingles patient, mellifluous alt. country ballads with bluesy southern rock; not the rumbling, gritty southern rock of DBT, which is excellent in its own way. For the unfamiliar, Isbell has an extremely smooth and soulful voice, accented by a bit of twang and sadness—great for those southern rock tracks that speak of inner daemons and life's inherent struggles. The music quality is always solid, but what particularly draws me to Isbell's tracks are his impassioned vocals and thoughtful lyrics (Example: The Muscle Shoals R&B horn infused, "No Choice in the Matter). The album transitions like a collection of short stories, providing snippets of poverty, death, soldier-to-civilian reintegration, addressing substance abuse, and overcoming sadness & lost love, with instrumental digressions reflecting the disposition of the lyrics. This is a very good album, and although I feel DBT made better albums with Isbell, I am appreciative of the parting-of-ways because now we have Isbell's individualized style and approach to enjoy.
Suggestion: "Good," "Seven-Mile Island," "Soldiers Get Strange," and "Cigarettes And Wine" capture the spectrum of emotion and style pretty well.