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Sirens Of The Ditch


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Audio CD, July 10, 2007
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Sirens Of The Ditch + Here We Rest + Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Accomplished guitarist and songwriter Jason Isbell, formerly of Drive By Truckers (DBT), releases his debut solo album Sirens Of The Ditch.

The album rocks with 11 tracks all written by Isbell kicking off with "Brand New Kind Of Actress", followed by the rocker "Down In A Hole", a swampy number featuring Muscle Shoals natives Spooner Oldham and David Hood. Isbell s songwriting skills shine especially on "Dress Blues" a pensive ballad about a high-school classmate who lost his life fighting in Iraq and "Chicago Promenade" a tribute to his late Grandfather.

Listeners caught glimpses of Isbell s skills on Drive-By Truckers records with tracks like "Danko/Manuel" and "Outfit".

Sirens Of The Ditch's mystical quality can be partially attributed to the FAME recording studio (Aretha Franklin, Duane Allman, Otis Redding) in Isbell s hometown of Muscle Shoals, AL where the album was recorded. A lot of old soul musicians came through here in the late 60s and 70s and helped define the Muscle Shoals sound, the lifelong Alabamian explains, so that influence was always in my environment, but on this record I really tried to capture that.

Co-produced by Isbell and Patterson Hood (DBT), Sirens Of The Ditch features Isbell singing lead vocals and playing guitar throughout, joined by Shonna Tucker (DBT) on Bass and Brad Morgan (DBT) on drums. Several musicians pop in for cameos including Spooner Oldham and David Hood (Patterson s father) on "Down In A Hole", John Neff (DBT) on "Dress Blues" and Patterson himself guests on "Shotgun Wedding".

Amazon.com

Guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Isbell was a driving force in the rousing postmodern Southern rock band Drive-By Truckers. Sirens of the Ditch is his solo debut. A resident of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Isbell clearly has Catholic taste in his roots rock. His backing band throws together a pleasant mélange of pedal steel, organ, strummed acoustic guitar, and heartfelt Americana vocals. At first, it sounds like something you've heard before a thousand times, by Ryan Adams or was that Bryan Adams. However, on closer inspection, there's a lot more going on. After rhyming "bitch" with "ditch" in the song "Ditch," Isbell throws in a line about "dancing to 'Purple Rain'" and you're drawn in, to a clearly delineated but poetic storyline and gorgeous melodies. Isbell's best songs will remind you of Richard Buckner, Raymond Carver, and Neil Young. "Dress Blues" might be the most sympathetic and awesome song about the Iraq war yet written. Huzzah. --Mike McGonigal

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Brand New Kind Of Actress 5:35$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Down In A Hole 4:22$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Try 4:52$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Chicago Promenade 3:23$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Dress Blues 4:11$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Grown 3:46$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Hurricanes And Hand Grenades 5:11$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  8. In A Razor Town 3:19$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Shotgun Wedding 3:49$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen10. The Magician 4:20$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen11. The Devil Is My Running Mate 3:45$1.29  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 10, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: 2007
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: New West Records
  • ASIN: B000QUU2UW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,171 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Jason Isbell is an unbelievably talented song writer and musician, and this album reflects that talent.
Emily Mathews
Some of the songs are very good and feel like they could be great, but something is keeping them from it.
paul
They are the perfect platform for Isbell's raspy, plaintive voice and his multidimensional guitar styles.
B R Louis Williams & T. O. Williams III

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D Wood on August 23, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Saw him open for Sunvolt and give a much better performance, frankly. "Dress Blues" had me choked up in public and I bought the album on the strength of that song. I only find a couple other songs as good, but there are no real stinkers, either. Like a lot of bands I used to listen to back in the day, they've had a hard time getting their great live band energy to come through in a studio recording. That said, the band's musicianship and Isbell's singing are well represented. I'm looking forward to the next album and Isbell's next crack at songwriting, which I think shows flashes of brilliance here.

Heck, I've just talked myself into revising it to 4 stars instead of 3. Definitely see them live, but until then, even with a couple forgettable songs on it, "Dress Blues" and "Try" are worth the price of this album.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By paul on October 23, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I had to listen a bit before I could review this. It had to sink in for a little while. Like the majority of folks who bought this album I was a Drive-By Truckers fan first and was interested in Isbell based on his output from that band, and fine bit of output it was. I bought the album with DBT comparisons in mind and I don't think I gave this album a fair shot to stand on its own. It is different from DBT, and those difference were a little off-putting at first (because of my expectations) but I found going back a re-listening to be very rewarding.

Oddly, the stuff that is the furthest from his DBT work is, in my opinion the best material here. "Chicago Promenade" struck me as the most sincere song and I wasn't surprised to learn that Isbell had a family member in mind when writing it. It's the kind of song that is personal yet universal, like a relationship with a loved one. Each personal relationship is different, but there is an aspect of familiarity that everyone can relate to since we've all felt it. It's not necessarily what he says in the song, but the feeling behind that gives me goosebumps when I hear it.

That aspect of feeling is also what sets apart "Hurricanes and Hand Grenades." The first line "I've got a glass of wine/I've got a cigarette/I should be feelin' fine/I ain't feelin' nothin' yet" perfectly encapsulates the mood of this lazy, bluesy gem. It creeps along like sneaking wine buzz that slowly warms the entire body until you realize that your just sitting and smiling for no particular reason. The lyrics of the song indicate pain and loss, but vibe is pure mellow.

There are some places where the album feels like it's missing something. Some of the songs are very good and feel like they could be great, but something is keeping them from it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dean W. West on December 11, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Jason Isbell's "Sirens of the Ditch" is brilliant, edgy, intuitive, deep-running country rock of the New School. Isbell is a remarkable poet and combines powerful lyrics with tight, soaring guitar breaks. Frankly, there is something wrong with a person who can resist playing air-guitar on many of these tunes. Though most of the songs are not political, "The Devil is My Running Mate" is one of my favorites because it absolutely nails President Bush.

I don't want to listen to any other music but Isbell's right now, and it's been like that for a month. This doesn't happen to me very much. Be warned, if you listen to this CD a few times, the Sirens will indeed draw you onto Isbell's lyrical island for an extended musical vacation. I look forward to more powerful new music from this former Drive By Trucker.

Purely by luck, in early November we saw Jason Isbell live in front of a large crowd at the Cubbie Bear in Chicago. His was the warm-up band for the main act. Isbell blew the audience away. My son is a veteran Chicago band watcher. When Isbell was urged back for his second encore, my son shouted to me that it was the first time he'd seen a warm-up band get even one encore in the Windy City.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Doyle Petty on May 21, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have always loved music and it has been a big part of my life. I am almost 70 now and still listen, but not like I did in my earlier years. Actually, I had pretty much lost interest until I saw Jason Isbell on PBS LIVE AT LINCOLN CENTER a couple of months ago.
I am embarrassed to say that I had never heard of him, but was taken with his music. I Am currently buying all his CD's one at a time so I can become very familiar with all his recorded work.

The last time I got this excited over an artist was in 1972 when I discovered John Prine! Jason Isbell is an incredible talent!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ReviewingChris on August 16, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Jason Isbell spent several years as the third guitarist/singer/songwriter with modern-day southern rock stalwarts The Drive-By Truckers. He was well-liked by his fellow band members and the songs he contributed to the Truckers last three albums were nearly all excellent. But the dreaded "creative differences" have reared their heads and Isbell has officially left the band to go it alone. This isn't a huge shock, as the band's other two guitarists had been playing together for 15 years before Isbell joined. There just wasn't a lot of room for Jason's songs between two other prolific songwriters, and, being so much younger, his own style was still developing. And it was beginning to develop in different directions than the rest of The Drive-By Truckers.

The parting between the band and Isbell was amicable, as 3/4ths of the remaining Truckers show up on Sirens of the Ditch, serving as his backing band on most of the songs. As someone who loved all of Isbell's previous material, my expectations for an entire album of his songs were pretty darn high. Maybe a little too high. Sirens of the Ditch is a perfect example of what can happen when a songwriter strikes out on his own for the first time. When you only have room for 2-3 songs per album, only the absolute best make the cut. Given a little space to breathe and write a full collection of songs, Isbell manages a good, solid effort. But it's not brilliant from start to finish.

When the Truckers rock out, they tend to do it down and dirty, with dark, meaty riffs and a thick layer of fuzzy guitars. Isbell's rock songs tend to have a catchier, brighter feel to them, and that's encapsulated in the album-opening "Brand New Kind of Actress" and later on in "Shotgun Wedding.
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