In the last several years, Jason Isbell has won four Grammys, clinched six Americana Music Awards, and headlined stages around the world. But in 2007, at age twenty-eight, he was coming off of a six-year run with the Drive-By Truckers, and gearing up to release solo material for the very first time.
Isbell’s debut, Sirens of the Ditch, was recorded in his hometown of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, at FAME Studios, where legends like Aretha Franklin, Duane Allman, and Wilson Pickett kick-started their careers. Co-produced by Isbell and former DBT bandmate Patterson Hood, the album features contributions from other former Truckers, like Drummer Brad Morgan and guitarist John Neff, plus cameos from Muscle Shoals “Swampers” Spooner Oldham and David Hood (Patterson’s father). Its success laid the groundwork for Isbell to become one of Americana’s most influential artists; each subsequent record—six studio albums and three live ones, with a fourth on the way—has found a larger audience than the last. But Sirens remains a fan favorite, and songs like “In a Razor Town” and “Dress Blues” continue to pop up on Isbell’s setlists.
On Friday, July 13, Sirens of the Ditch will hit shelves again with a deluxe edition featuring four additional songs from those original FAME sessions. “Racetrack Romeo” surfaced on a demo as “Merciless,” but fuller instrumentation lends the regret-ridden track a rougher edge. Hear it for the first time in its entirety below, and pre-order the deluxe edition of Sirens of the Ditch here.