Jason Isbell's first solo album, Sirens of the Ditch, comes out next Tuesday. I've been looking forward to it ever since it was announced, back before we found that he was leaving Drive-By Truckers. I first came to the DBTs only a couple years ago when they released The Dirty South and I susbsequently bought every album. Although I like all their albums, I've felt the last three were particularly strong in that they had the three songwriter attack of Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and Isbell. Now, I love Patterson's songs and I love Cooley's songs but I've tended to gravitate just as much to the Isbell songs. So, I thought I would spend the next week looking at Isbell's songs in preparation for next Tuesday.
"Outfit" was the first Isbell-penned DBT song on Decoration Day, which came out in 2003. It's a song from a father to son, telling him how his life turned out and wanting his son not to make the same mistakes, as well as telling him how to be a man. "Don't call what you're wearing an outfit." "Don't worry about losing your accent, a Southern man tells better jokes." "Don't sing with a fake British accent." These are great lines in a song full of great lines. The music fits the words as well, a mostly acoustic strum and pick with some pedal steel, then the electric guitars come in to solo at the end. The melody is strong with some great high harmony. It's a great introduction to the talents of Jason Isbell.