Jason Isbell – Sirens of the Ditch
New West Records
By Kasey Anderson
Given the fact that, for the last five years, Jason Isbell has been the most consistently impressive songwriter in the Drive-By Truckers, it was difficult to temper expectations for his long-awaited solo record.
The problem with said expectations is that one has to consider the fact that, in his time with the Truckers, Isbell contributed eight songs to the band’s recorded output. So one probably shouldn’t expect an entire album of songs to be as astonishing as his limited output with DBT, and it isn’t.
Sirens of the Ditch is a good enough album, but one gets the impression that, by and large, these were songs that didn’t make the Drive-By Truckers cut.
The album’s stand-out track, “Dress Blues,” is a stirring rumination on the casualties of war; unfortunately, it’s one of the few songs on the album that isn’t weighed down with clichÃ©s and platitudes.
Luckily, it’s easy to overlook any lyrical missteps because Isbell’s songs are rife with hooks, and still intelligent enough that a cringe-worthy couplet here or there doesn’t derail the record.
With Isbell no longer obligated to DBT, one would expect that his next offering will contain the gems that were once reserved for his former band. Here’s hoping that he meets those expectations the next time around. – (7/10)