Jason Isbell Claims Top Album Slot With Something More Than Free

"One Hell of an Amen" Earns Another No. 1 Song Prize for Brantley Gilbert

Man, are the charts popping this week! Finally.

Americana favorite Jason Isbell edges out the mighty Alan Jackson to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s country albums chart, and Brantley Gilbert’s “One Hell of an Amen” ascends to the peak of the country airplay rankings, climaxing a 37-week climb.

By Nielsen SoundScan’s count, Isbell’s album, Something More Than Free, conquers Jackson’s Angels and Alcohol by first-week sales of 45,785 copies versus Jackson’s 45,310. That minuscule difference reduced Jackson to a No. 2 debut.

Oddly enough, in the Billboard 200, the all-genres chart that has a more encompassing way of counting sales and online streams, Jackson’s album comes in at No. 5, one place ahead of Isbell’s.

Billboard has a genius for slicing and dicing stats in ways that create lots of winners (and lots of self-congratulatory ads).

There are two other new albums: Moonshine BanditsBlacked Out (No. 23) and Lee Brice’s Mixtape: ‘Til Summer’s Gone EP (No. 18).

And there are five — count ‘em, five — songs making their first chart appearance this week. They are the Andy GrammerEli Young Band duet, “Honey, I’m Good” (entering at No. 51), Jerrod Niemann’s “Blue Bandana” (No. 53), Easton Corbin’s “Yup” (No. 54), Ronnie Dunn’s “Ain’t No Trucks in Texas” (No. 58) and Blake Shelton’s “Gonna” (No. 59).

The No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 albums, in that order, are Sam Hunt’s Montevallo, the Zac Brown Band’s Jekyll + Hyde and Eric Church’s The Outsiders.

Following “One Hell of an Amen” in the Top 5 songs cluster are Jason Aldean’s “Tonight Looks Good on You” (last week’s No. 1), Michael Ray’s “Kiss You in the Morning,” Luke Bryan’s “Kick the Dust Up” (now in its 10th week on the chart) and the Zac Brown Band’s “Loving You Easy.”

You think country songs lack eloquence? How could that be with such riveting titles as “Fly,” “Dibs,” “Yup” and “Gonna”?

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.