Jason Isbell is in rarefied company in more than one aspect of the music industry. Few artists have scaled the heights of success and fell to the all too well-known squalor of addiction and bondage that can ensnare an artist by the very trappings of that success more dramatically. Jason Isbell not only lived the pain of that life pathway, he wrote about it like a man driven to exorcise every past demon. Much of that journey is exposed with striking candor and on his 2013 album, “Southeastern,” which won wide acclaim, and brought him into kinship with many who had traveled the same roads.

“Something More Than Free” was the 2015 Grammy-winning follow-up which described Jason Isbell through his own verse putting life, love, and living free of any hocus-pocus through a substance or hurts of his past.

His newest collection, “The Nashville Sound,” surrounds him with his own familiar ensemble from 2008 in the 400 Unit. Life is filled with good things and great music for Jason Isbell these days. The songwriter still shows a unique gift for facing reality, and he shared it on June 24’s Saturday Sessions with a set of new songs.

Beautiful darkness

“Nashville Sound” was just released 11 days ago, and already is being hailed as being among the year’s best. Jason Isbell understands that some see this as his “second act,” and he laughingly jokes that his life makes for “one lopsided play.” His masterful skill at drawing beautiful lessons from darkness and detailing the blessings of love remains. His nearly two-year-old daughter, Mercy Rose, with wife, band mate, soul-mate, and fiddle player, Amanda Shires, gives him a new reason to savor the moments and the gift each one is every day.

Sobriety brought the artist to stop “waiting for inspiration” and simply decide to “work real hard.” Jason Isbell has done that, in his life and his art, and it has reaped reward beyond the new hardware for his mantle. John Mayer wrote on Twitter that Jason lives on a level of artistry “where even greater writers can only visit.” Jason Isbell views life, love, and his songs with an eternal vision now.

Unlikely love songs

Speaking of eternity, few creatures ever conceived embrace eternity in the sense that vampires do.

Jason Isbell declared that to answer where the beings came from is “well above my pay grade,” but the songwriter puts eternity into perfect perspective on “If We Were Vampires.” He explained that the concept all started with trying to “deconstruct” the familiar “list” kind of love song, with all the attributes that lure a lover. The product is a beautiful ballad of acceptance that death is no joke, with strains from the beautiful union of resonator guitar and fiddle accompanying the message of making the most of fleeting finite days.

Purposely upbeat

“Cumberland Gap” and “Hope the High Road’ comprised the remainder of the morning’s performances. “Cumberland Gap” comes to terms with the generational markings that become part of human predilection, with a mature understanding of a father's dreams and ways, often swallowed by demands of life that “swallow you whole.” The message is somber, but the melody is driving and determined, showcasing Isbell’s stellar strings along with the band. Clearly, the intent is to offer that the vision of the mountains, and to inspire a way out.

“Hope the High Road” is another display of superb musicianship and songwriting, with its matter-of-fact change of mind. “Heard enough of the white man’s blues,” declare the lyrics, that also abandon songs “about myself.” The call is to cease the fight and make way together to creating a world fit for life. With stark depiction that only Jason Isbell can evoke, the truth is laid bare, but so is the promise.

Jason Isbell grasped the fragility of life when he first held Mercy Rose, but now, sees that fact as a thing a beauty.

Songs live on forever, keeping their composers alive to next generations. The meaning and melodies of “The Nashville Sound” will keep singing truth well beyond the life of that beloved daughter.

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