When Jason Isbell performed at the Americana Honors and Awards on September 16th, it was a little more than two weeks after his wife Amanda Shires had given birth to the couple’s first child. Even so, talented fiddle player Shires was onstage beside Isbell at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium that night.
The song they played was the title track from Isbell’s acclaimed Something More Than Free, which depicts an exhausted blue-collar worker resolutely punching the clock day after tiresome day. In the video from ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2015, Isbell and Shires opt for the no-frills approach — one electric guitar, bass, drums and fiddle. The attention stays squarely on Isbell’s complex character, who dreams of one day getting his heavenly rewards but sighs in the present day, “Sunday morning I’m too tired to go to church. But I thank God for the work.”
Something More Than Free was released July 17th and had the rare and notable honor of landing at Number One on the Billboard Country Albums chart and outselling Alan Jackson’s major label release Angels and Alcohol. Isbell has a busy touring schedule in 2016 — including a January trek through Europe — and is slated to play the Hangout Festival in May along with The Weeknd, Alabama Shakes, Calvin Harris and many others.