We’re very a fortunate group of people here at the AC. Regularly we witness country troubadours passing through and sharing intimate versions of their songs then we sit down and get a chance to ask all the things we’ve wanted to know since first spinning their records.
Now seems to be as good a time as any to reflect a little on that privilege. It’s been quite a year; we’ve spoken with kings and queens of country and witnessed some remarkable performances in concert rooms and in our studios. We’ve also heard some great stories. So it doesn’t seem likely that this late in the year I’d be flagging up a session and interview which takes everything up a gear.
A couple of weeks ago we welcomed an afternoon visit by Jason Isbell just before he had to return to the 02 Academy for his soundcheck with the 400 Unit. To be honest we’d fully expected that this was a commitment Jason would be unable to keep. He’s been on the road for most of the year and such is his success there’s no big reason he should consent to anything which takes up more time in his day. The promoter had already moved his ABC show to the bigger Academy to satisfy demand and the tickets for the bigger show were all gone months ago. I hope you’re getting the picture.
As I sat in the control room and listened in to Jason going through his possible songs I was taken by the ease in which tracks from ‘The Nashville Sound,’ his current album, poured out. This is a man as at home with an electric or an acoustic guitar in his hand, happy to be the band leader or, in this case, the folk singer – retelling the stories for one more audience.
There are really great versions of Jason songs which you can hear this coming Tuesday and you will also hear a longer than expected extended conversation on subjects as diverse as divided-America, record labels, fatherhood and his relationship with his friend and producer, Dave Cobb.
Jason Isbell is an artist at the top of his game. Comfortable in his own skin, recent massive commercial success has only confirmed what most people have known for some while; he’s a singer-songwriter accurately and eloquently telling the story of his own time in his own way. I’m not really sure Jason’s career path is one we’re going to see too often in this next generation. An artist who has had no real ‘hits’, comes from outside music-row but is lauded and respected by the country community, is not signed to a major label, and yet is successful commercially and critically. He is loved for his records and his live shows and he has developed a singular career over a number of years. Maybe he truly is the last of his kind? It’s a story we all need to hear and you can tune in this coming Tuesday with a special repeat this coming Friday.
Join us if you can this from five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland