There's something about this guy, who has a totally different songwriting and storytelling style, that makes me feel the same way George Harrison makes me feel. It might be the guitar sound, but there's definitely something Harrison-y there. It's also a little bit like the way some Jackson Browne songs make me feel. George does it with his spirituality, Jackson with the aching love songs (though, I guess they're really the same thing). This guy has something a little different in tone but the effect is the same. I know I'm not really telling you anything that makes any sense if you're not in my head, but I'm still feeling pretty raw from my first listen of "Southeastern" this morning. And I never professed to be good at this writing stuff.
I listened to the first eight songs on this album on the way to work, and I didn't stop sniffling until I got to "Songs That She Sang," which was the point when I told myself I had to get pulled together so my co-workers wouldn't call 9-1-1 when I got there. Just so you know, the 5 freeway through the City of Commerce on a June Gloom morning is pretty depressing. I'm not saying he made me sad; the three and a half hours of sleep I got last night probably account for that feeling: I'm just saying these are heartbreakingly beautiful songs. Remember the first time I heard "Sky Blue and Black"? I just want to be heading off on a road trip with him and that voice.
Wikipedia calls his sound "progressive country," and I don't know what that means, exactly, because though there are some voices in the country (alt country, whatever) genre that I really like, I'm not exactly a fan of that style of music. I'd probably freak out (in a good way) if this guy put that voice (his voice is killer! It's so emotional and broken and gorgeous) to a Fleetwood Mac song, or rocked it out (I haven't heard him enough to know if that's something he does). Oh, my goodness, imagine him singing Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done"! Obviously I have some more listening to do.
Anyway, I'm here at work, drinking my coffee, and no one seems alarmed at my emotional state, so even though it sounds as if Mr. Isbell wrecked me, it was in a good way. Anyway, I think that was his plan. Otherwise why make music in the first place?