Barely a week after releasing Something More Than Free, Jason Isbell took the stage at Newport Folk for a set that highlighted many of the new songs from that album. Isbell has attained star status in the alt-country world, but his performance channeled the best of the southern rock tradition that emerged in north Alabama and Georgia in the 1970s — two places where Isbell lived and worked before relocating to Nashville.
Something More Than Free shows a lighter, more optimistic side of Isbell than did 2013's Southeastern, which emerged from the murky depths of his struggle with alcoholism. Appropriately, spirits were infectiously high all around Newport's Fort Stage as Isbell swaggered through new songs like "Palmetto Rose" and goofed around with his band.
Well-worn favorites from Southeastern continued to resonate deeply, too. When Isbell belted the line "I sobered up and I swore off that stuff, forever this time" in "Cover Me Up," the crowd responded with a thunderous roar of support.
Audio: Joshua Rogosin, Suraya Mohamed and Monique Mizrahi; Photography: Adam Kissick.
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