“Hell-bent on growing up” is how Isbell, who spent six years with the Drive-By Truckers, describes himself in the terrific first song, “If It Takes a Lifetime.” He had sobered up from cocaine and Jack Daniels in 2012 after an intervention by his wife, Ryan Adams, and others, and he toured with Adams later that year. Something More than Free shows some similarities to that tour-mate in some of the slower songs, both in the melodies and the way he writes about everyday happenings. Isbell’s voice has always sounded older and wiser than his age—36—would suggest. It’s a little rough in a good way, with a rich North Alabama twang. His lyrics are sharp, as if he writes his songs out on a whetstone instead of paper. It’s not unusual for recovering and/or maturing rock and country singers to get more comfortable with writing about the awkwardness and failures in their lives, but Isbell does it better than most. He’s never over-clever, and he always sounds genuine, and the production is solid and uncomplicated. The first handful of songs is noticeably stronger than the rest, though, especially the brilliant “24 Frames” and “How to Forget.” No complaints about the sound.