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Interview:
Jason Isbell lets personal matters drive new album
 

By GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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"A lot of changes" in his life were key to the very personal nature of Jason Isbell's newly released fourth solo album, "Southeastern."

"I feel like really, in the last couple of years, I've sort of become a grownup," says the former Drive-By Truckers member. "Part of that was quitting drinking and facing the world as it is for the first time in a long time. And then being in a stable relationship and getting married" -- to Amanda Shires, who plays fiddle and sings on the song "Traveling Alone" -- "and trying to start a family and get more focused on that...

"So there was a lot of that in there, a lot of things that happened that I felt like were probably stories that were worth telling."

This time out, too, Isbell decided to get some help in telling those tales. Though he'd previously taken a co-production role in his own material as well as Drive-By Truckers, this time he brought in Dave Cobb and "turned over more control than I have in the past" -- to, he feels, good effect.

"That was a little difficult at first," Isbell, 34, acknowledges, "but once I got to know Dave Cobb a little better and realized his goals were pretty much the same as mine, it went pretty easily. I did put so much of myself into these songs and they were so personally important to me that I think ceding that kind of (control) to someone else was great.

"If you find the right person it can be great, that is. If not, you wind up making the same record over again. Fortunately in this case it worked out great."

Jason Isbell and Widowspaek perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at the Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $25. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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