Wade Bowen has been popping up a lot this year for his stellar interpretations of other artists’ work, country and otherwise. His latest video from his in-home Garage Mahal cover song series pays tribute to his peer Jason Isbell with a version of the 2015 recording “Flagship.”
Bowen begins the video by singing the praises of Isbell, who’d included “Flagship” on his Grammy-winning LP Something More Than Free. “It’s hard to write a different love song nowadays, and I’ve seen Jason over the years, all the way from the [Drive-By] Truckers to now, become probably the finest songwriter walking around,” he says. Like Isbell’s version, Bowen gives “Flagship” a hushed, sensitive reading, lacking even the string arrangement that augmented the original. He leans into the brittle vocal, accentuating the hopeful but delicate sentiment of the lyrics.
The Texas country singer started Garage Mahal earlier this year, previously performing songs by Bruce Springsteen, John Mayer, and Bob Dylan, which he records in the garage of his house in New Braunfels, outside Austin. Outside of his Garage Mahal songs, Bowen stepped into the studio earlier this year with Texas country buddy Randy Rogers to sing a duet of Guy Clark’s “Rita Ballou,” and both singers joined Miranda Lambert onstage last month for a cover of Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home.” Bowen plays Lone Star Amphitheater in Lubbock, Texas on September 8th.