THE GUITAR AS A TOOL TO MAKE ART
“I definitely liked the feel and the sound of something that had been played before,” Isbell said of his first electric guitar. “I get to have this piece of art, which wasn’t created as a piece of art. It was created as a tool. But, I get to use it to make more art.”
As Isbell got more comfortable with the guitar, he began to hone the expressive and genre-defying style he’s known for now — seemingly influenced as much by David Gilmour and Mark Knopfler as it is Chet Atkins and Merle Haggard. It’s something he’s still working on to this day, too.
“There was a time early on, like a lot of players, I felt like I had something to prove,” Isbell said. “Then after that, I had to learn how to play with a band. Then I had to learn how to accompany a bunch of singers, then I had to learn how to accompany myself.
“Now, there’s a balance I’m always trying to find between playing the guitar alot in order to satisfy my own desire to play the guitar and serving the songs.”