Shortly after the contentious 2020 Presidential election, Jason Isbell made a promise: if Joe Biden won Georgia, he would pay tribute to the state by recording an album of songs by Georgia-based musicians, and he would donate the proceeds to charity. Biden won the state, and a year later Isbell’s making good on his promise with Georgia Blue. Containing covers of everyone from Cat Power and Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ to James Brown and Gladys Knight, it’s a well thought-out selection that gives a good overview of Georgia’s diverse music scene. Plenty of highlights here, but for our money, we’re in love with his take on R.E.M’s classic “Driver 8.” Though his arrangement is faithful to a fault, Isbell’s twangy singing voice gives the song an even more earnestness than the original. It does what all good covers do—it pays tribute to the original while adding the coverer’s distinctive spin. The same can be said about the rest of Georgia Blue as well.
Purchase Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit Georgia Blue: Southeastern Records