Tennessee Theatre, 604 South Gay Street, (865) 684-1200
Doors open at 7 p.m.
Southeastern is not a record Jason has made before, and not simply because the glorious storm and drama of his band, the 400 Unit, is absent. They will tour together; it's not a break-up record, not an album of dissolving, but, rather, songs of discovery. And not at all afraid, not even amid the tears. Which is to say that he has grown up. That it has been a dozen years since he showed up at a party and left in the Drive-By Truckers' van with two travel days to learn their songs. And then taught them some of his songs in the bargain. Jason Isbell's solo career has seemed equally effortless, from Sirens of the Ditch (2007) to Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit (2009), through Here We Rest (2011) and last year's Live From Alabama. Loud records, unrepentantly southern, resplendent with careful songwriting. Songs which inspire and intimidate other musicians, and critics. The songs on Southeastern are invested with Jasonís particular, personal truths, but they're not about him. Or, rather, the emotional truths are probably about the songwriter, but not the stories he's telling. This is not, to be clear, an acoustic album. "Flying Over Water" and "Super 8" have more than the requisite amount of guitar squawl to propel them. But it is the quiet, contemplative songs that lure you in out of the rain, and those songs especially that draw one into the arc of the entire album. "I've done my part," Jason says, his dry chuckle trailing off. "I make things and other people try to sell those things. I try not to mix the two together. I think that's just a better way to make more quality things." He is, of course, right.