I don't much care for country music, and what little of it I do like tends to be of the more old school variety (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, etc.). However, a few years ago I used to listen to the podcast "Welcome to Nightvale," which features a song at the end of each episode. That was the first time I heard of Jason Isbell - specifically, his song "Cover Me Up."
I fell in love with that song & downloaded it. After that, I began to see him mentioned on several different forums that I read. Personally, I still only own two of his songs, but I like them both so much that I had a difficult time choosing which one to feature here. Ultimately, while I find "Cover Me Up" really beautiful & romantic, I decided it was too slow.
What I like most about Isbell is his voice. The word "smoky" comes to mind. I like how his music tends to be very simple, allowing his voice to shine. (While the above is a live concert, the studio version of the song is nearly as simplistic.)
Also, I really enjoy him thematically. I don't happen to be religious and yet this song has religious undertones. I don't mind it. I like the sentiment anyway:
And I don't think on why I'm here or where it hurts
I'm just lucky to have the work
Sunday morning I'm too tired to go to church
But I thank God for the work
It's a song about a man living his life, going to work, looking for meaning, and recognizing that he needs to be grateful for what he has, whatever that is. It has a hint of sadness, as most great country songs do, but it also rings true, and, in the end, it's hopeful. I think it's lovely.