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Jason Isbell

Who? After six years as one of a trio of lead singers/guitarists for revved-up southern rockers Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell bid farewell to the band in April 2006. Accounts differ as to whether the split was amicable or more of a messy divorce but either way, Isbell’s solo career gets off to a promising start with the new Sirens of the Ditch (out now via the New West label). The Alabama native adds soulful mediations and tender choruses to the rootsy alt-rock from his DBT days in a way that comfortably sets him apart sonically.

What’s the Deal? Even before Isbell’s departure, Sirens had taken on a Bigfoot-level air of mystery among Truckers fans since its first sessions at Fame Studios in Muscles Shoals, Ala. began four years ago, shortly after Isbell joined the band’s tour behind 2001’s Southern Rock Opera. The presence of DBT members Shonna Tucker and Brad Morgan on bass and drums, respectively, and singer/guitarist Patterson Hood, and the speculation it invites, will certainly add to that mystique but Isbell’s work is strong enough to merit attention on its own. Calling to mind Son Volt, Neil Young and the Black Crowes, Sirens moves from surprisingly pretty remembrances (“Chicago Promenade”) to a pair of war and government protest songs (“Dress Blues,” “The Devil Is My Running Mate”) that are among the best of this generation.

Fun Fact: The title of Sirens of the Ditch comes from 16th century Italian poet Torquato Tasso, who referred to frogs and the sounds they made from low-lying areas as “syrens of the ditch”

Now Hear This:
Jason Isbell – “Brand New Kind of Actress”

On the Web:
Jason Isbell at MySpace

Talk: Will Isbell be able to find success away from the Drive-By Truckers?

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