"Chicago Promenade" by Jason Isbell
Jason Isbell only contributed eight songs to Drive-By Truckers during his five-year tenure with the band, but his grit and depth were always a highlight—and with Sirens Of The Ditch, he finally has a disc all his own to show off. Sporting input from his former bandmates as well as legendary keyboardist Spooner Oldham, Isbell's solo debut doesn't stray far from his Truckers work, at least at its core. Instead of gargantuan guitars and Skynyrd-style solos, however, he wraps his craggy allegories in skeletal, arid arrangements that let his twang and prose breathe. Free of clutter and the Truckers' overwhelming gravity, Sirens is the sound of a freshly liberated songwriter scouring his soul—and coming up full-handed.