Southeastern (album)

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Studio album by Jason Isbell
Released June 11, 2013 (2013-06-11)
Genre Alternative country, Americana
Length 47:18
Label Southeastern
Producer David Cobb
Jason Isbell chronology
Here We Rest
(2011)Here We Rest2011
Something More Than Free
(2015)Something More Than Free2015
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[3]
Blurt5/5 stars[4]
Melodic4.5/5 stars[5]
Twang Nation5/5 stars[7]

Southeastern is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, released on June 11, 2013 on Southeastern Records. Produced by David Cobb, the album was released to widespread critical acclaim.[8]

Initially set to be produced by Isbell's friend and touring companion Ryan Adams, the album was recorded following a stint in rehab, with Isbell noting, "This time I want to remember it all."[9]

Background and recording[edit]

The album was recorded without the full participation of Jason Isbell's regular backing band The 400 Unit, with Isbell noting: "It really came to the nature of the songs more than anything else. It's a very personal record for me. And I had gone into the studio with the intention of making more of a solo, acoustic album. But Dave [Cobb], the producer, and I both sort of got bored with that idea and we decided to bring a band in for some things."[10] The 400 Unit band members Chad Gamble and Derry deBorja appear on drums and keyboards, respectively.

Producer Dave Cobb encouraged Isbell to record his vocals in one take: "I think the big difference is that during the process we kept a lot of live vocal takes and I've not done that in the past. I was sort of terrified, really. Before, we'd spend a couple days at the end of the sessions tuning everything. Dave Cobb really encouraged me to sing with the live tracks while we were recording it."[10]

Isbell finished recording Southeastern one or two days before his wedding to musician Amanda Shires,[9] saying he "even went back and did some final touches on Sunday after the wedding before we went on our honeymoon.[11]

On the title, Isbell said that geography "wasn't actually the reason I named the album that. That came from a tool and die shop in Alabama that my dad worked at when I was very young. He came home with terrible stories; I thought of the place as a dungeon. So I wanted to reclaim that for my own purposes."[11]

Writing and composition[edit]

The album's title stems from Isbell's childhood, with Isbell stating, "My dad used to work for a tool-and-die shop when I was a kid that was called Southeastern and that's how it originally occurred to me. I had moved from Muscle Shoals to Nashville – almost a year ago now — and it struck me that, at this point in my life, I don't have any interest in living in any other part of the country or the world, really."[10]

The album's fourth track, "Elephant", focuses upon cancer, with Isbell stating: "It's something that everyone has had an experience with, or they will have. It can be difficult, but it's supposed to be. You're supposed to give enough of a damn about the songs you're singing that you might get a little choked up a little during one of 'em."[12]

The track, "Yvette", which deals with sexual abuse, is a companion piece to the track, "Daisy Mae", on Isbell's previous studio album, Here We Rest (2011). He notes, "I got to a point, I guess when I was probably thirty, or thirty-one years old, where it occurred to me almost everyone you meet was sexually abused as a kid, almost everybody, by someone. That never happened to me, believe it or not, but the percentages are just staggering, and writing a song about something that's that depressing I think it's good to discuss it. Some people like to discuss those things, maybe they don't want to start the conversation themselves, but sometimes those things help folks to relate and get those things out of their system a little bit."[10]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at No. 23 on Billboard 200,[13] and No. 7 on Top Rock Albums,[14] selling 18,000 copies in its first week. It has sold 148,000 copies in the United States as of June 2015.[15]

Track listing[edit]

1."Cover Me Up"4:51
3."Traveling Alone"4:27
5."Flying Over Water"3:58
6."Different Days"3:34
7."Live Oak"3:35
8."Songs That She Sang in the Shower"3:56
9."New South Wales"3:53
10."Super 8"3:25
12."Relatively Easy"4:45


Primary musicians[edit]

  • Jason Isbell – vocals, guitar
  • Brian Allen – bass guitar
  • Chad Gamble – drums
  • Derry deBorja – keyboards, mellotron
  • Dave Cobb – percussion

Additional musicians[edit]

Recording personnel[edit]

  • Dave Cobb – producer
  • Mark Petaccia – engineer, mixing
  • Pete Lyman – mastering
  • Bill Satcher – runner
  • John Michael Brady – drum tech


  • Chris Kro – art direction
  • Michael Wilson – photography


Chart (2013) Peak
US Billboard 200[16] 23
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[17] 5
US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)[18] 7
US Top Tastemaker Albums (Billboard)[19] 5


  1. ^ "Southeastern Reviews". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  2. ^ "Jason Isbell – Southeastern – Album Review". 2013-06-11. Retrieved 2015-07-17. 
  3. ^ Leggett, Steve. "Southeastern – Jason Isbell". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  4. ^ Mills, Fred (2013-06-13). "Jason Isbell – Southeastern". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  5. ^ Holmgren, Rickard. "Southeastern – Jason Isbell". Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  6. ^ Deusner, Stephen (2013-07-11). "Jason Isbell – Southeastern". Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  7. ^ Lane, Baron (2013-06-22). "Listen Up: Album Review: Jason Isbell – "Southeastern"". Twang Nation. Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  8. ^ Leahey, Andrew (September 17, 2013). "Jason Isbell Keeps On Truckin'". American Songwriter. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Garner, Dwight (May 31, 2013). "Jason Isbell, Unloaded". New York Times. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c d Adams, Jerrick. ""Commiserating Is Underrated in Art": An Interview with Jason Isbell". Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Lacher, Irene (September 7, 2013). "The Sunday Conversation: A sobering change for singer Jason Isbell". L.A. Times. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Woodbury, Jason P. (2013-09-18). "Jason Isbell on His "Bromance" with Ryan Adams and Powerful Recovery Album, Southeastern | Phoenix New Times". Retrieved 2015-07-17. 
  13. ^ Matt Wake (June 20, 2013). "Jason Isbell's 'Southeastern' album debuts at 23 on Billboard 200; singer to tape 'Austin City Limits'". 
  14. ^ "Top Rock Albums: June 29, 2013". Billboard. 
  15. ^ "Upcoming Releases". Hits Daily Double. HITS Digital Ventures. Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Jason Isbell Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  17. ^ "Jason Isbell Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard.
  18. ^ "Jason Isbell Chart History (Top Rock Albums)". Billboard.
  19. ^ "Jason Isbell Chart History (Top Tastemaker Albums)". Billboard.

External links[edit]