All this week, the writers of Christ and Pop Culture unveil their 25 most loved things of 2013. 

Previous #19: Feminism

#18. Jason Isbell – Southeastern

Jason Isbell has always been a great songwriter. For the last decade the Muscle Shoals native has been cranking out good song after good song. But in 2013, Isbell has outdone himself. Coming on the heels of a new start—sobering up and marrying fellow Americana virtuoso Amanda Shires—his fourth solo album, Southeastern, marks a new level of songwriting for Isbell. Gaining significantly more widespread attention than his earlier work (including great write-ups in publications like The New York Times & Wall Street Journal), Isbell has successfully wowed a rapidly growing fan base with what NPR rightfully described asone of 2013’s finest literary efforts”.

Southeastern isn’t just a good album, it’s some of the most powerful fiction of the year. Tracks like “Elephant” and “Live Oak” tell stories so vivid and vulnerable that they elicit powerful emotional responses, like a great novel or film. Every track takes on a life of its own, and with every listen, something new emerges from the songs Isbell has crafted—a missed reference, a new layer of human complexity in a narrative, a brilliant pun. It’s easy to get lost in this album for weeks at a time.

Southeastern is not simply a good album; it’s a new classic.

Next #17: House of Cards (Netflix)