Isbell is a former member of Drive-By Truckers, and on this his third solo outing since leaving the band he explores much of the same territory as the Truckers: a south full of stories of mistrust and misdeed, misery and loss, and occasionally love and hope. The latter emotion is the subject of “Alabama Pines,” a smooth country-rocker where Isbell sings of missing his native Alabama.

“Go It Alone” is a guitar and Hammond organ-filled rocker, but like in “Alabama Pines,” the song’s singer is looking to find some roots, this time after a failed relationship. “Never Could Believe” is a Little Feat-style pot of blues funk, slide guitar sweetens up the soulful “We’ve Met” and Isbell shines with just acoustic guitar back-up on “Daisy Mae.”

These songs are all good but not remarkable though the album does hold one true gem: the fiddle-driven, foot-shuffling hillbilly track “Codeine.” The song is drenched in anger brought about by betrayal, but Isbell somehow makes an incredibly catchy sing-along out of a chorus of “One of my friends/Has taken her in/And given her Codeine” Like his former colleagues in Drive-By Truckers, Isbell seems to be at his best when he steps into the darkness.