Single Review: Jason Isbell, “24 Frames”


“24 Frames”
Jason Isbell

Written by Jason Isbell

“You thought God was an architect. Now you know. He’s something like a pipe bomb ready to blow.”

If that line isn’t enough to have you itching to hear the new Jason Isbell single, “24 Frames,” then you might as well skip the rest of this review.

For those of you still here, please believe the hype. This is one artist who truly deserves the buzz that surrounds him.

The incendiary songwriting talent of Jason Isbell is made all the more impressive by his presence – his vitality – on record.

This is not one of those great alt-country songwriters who aren’t the best vehicle for their own songs. Sure, every country chart-topper should have the good enough sense to cover his stuff, but maybe they also have the good enough sense to realize that they won’t be able to top his original recordings.

“24 Frames” is the perfect introduction to Isbell, should you have missed 2013’s Southeastern.  Yes, the writing is clever, but the cleverness always remains in service to the poignancy of the song’s message.  And it’s a powerful message, at that, managing to evoke nostalgia while also reminding of the urgency that is now.

It’s a song that can hit home for someone who is newly in love, for someone who lost someone they love, even for someone who is, or is in love with, an addict.  It’s not his masterpiece – that remains “Elephant” – but it’s among his best recordings to date, and despite his relatively young recording career, that is already an impressive distinction.

Grade: A


  1. A slice of substantive ear candy. This will be very high on my year end list, too.

    I’m over the moon to see the album at #1 this week. I didn’t even realize enough people even know who he is. A small victory for quality masterful music.

  2. And, what’s more, the best versions of his songs are usually the live recordings!

    Seriously, Live in Alabama is one of my favorite albums of all time.

  3. What more can be said that Kevin didn’t already write up in the review? I can’t think of much. Just another fantastic song from a fantastic songwriter.

    Isbell is the modern day Kris Kristofferson and this song further proves it. The difference is, in today’s bastardized world of country music and the recording industry in general, no artist is allowed to go out and record his music without the permission of teir master.

  4. Not bad at all – the arrangement/instrumentation is okay but comparing the singer to Kristofferson is a bit off, since Kristofferson is a poor vocalist and Jason Isabel is somewhere between decent and good.

    The lyrics are thoughtful and not the usual radio fare (which means radio probably won’t touch it). I will go back and check out his past recordings


  5. Paul, I view Isbell, from a songwriter’s perspective, as a modern day Kristofferson. The quality and depth of his songs, his ability to develop characters and tell a story through song, matches Kristofferson.

  6. :) Those were the exact lyrics that hooked me!

    I agree. A great song and album. It’s the first music I’ve bought since “12 Stories”.

    I listened to “Southeastern” several times, but it never hit me hard enough to buy it. I saw him last summer when he opened for Willie and, even though the songs from that album weren’t resonating with me like these are, I enjoyed his show a lot.

    I may have to listen to “Alabama Live” as I’m listening to his set from Newport Folk Festival right now and loving it!

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