Southeastern, the new solo album from Jason Isbell, contains 12 new Isbell compositions and the most personal songs of self-reflection and discovery he has written to date. The lyrics of the beautiful and haunting opening track Cover Me Up, make it immediately apparent that Isbell is speaking from an entirely new viewpoint. The song features his strongest vocals to date, but also kicks the door to his soul wide open for all to see. Isbell struggled, fought his demons, and has remained sober for over a hear now. Also, he was recently married and has entered the next chapter of his life. However, Southeastern is not an album preaching sobriety, but a work of repentance, self-realization and most importantly, personal growth.
By no means is Southeastern a wholly solemn offering. Tracks such as Stockholm (with Kim Richey) and Traveling Alone (with Amanda Shires) offer laid back tempos and memorable choruses, while Flying Over Water and Super 8 are strong reminders of Isbell's deep roots in rock. The poetic and deeply intimate lyrics are the common thread that runs throughout the album, perhaps no better illustrated than on Live Oak.
- There's a man who walks beside me, he is who I used to be / and I wonder if she sees him and confuses him with me / and I wonder who she's pining for on nights I'm not around / could it be the man who did the things I'm living down. -