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There are song lyrics that you know a singer just imagined for the sake of writing a song, and then there are those that you know the singer actually lived. With Jason Isbell, you mostly get the latter. At the Lincoln Theatre last night, Isbell and his band, the 400 Unit, shared more than a few stories about Isbell’s youth (“Decoration Day,” “Dress Blues”) and his current state (“Traveling Alone,” “Cover Me Up”). In the hands of a musician who was writing from imagination, “Cover Me Up,” would have rung hollow. But Isbell, who wrote the song about his wife Amanda Shires and his move to sobriety because of her, played the song with all the power that a true love provides, garnering a standing ovation with rapturous applause from the crowd who until then had been seated. It’s the perfect bookend for a man who’s come a long way from “Goddamn Lonely Love,” which captured the sadder end of love years earlier.

Isbell wrapped up the night with a face-melting cover of Neil Young‘s “Like a Hurricane” for the encore.

See photos from the show in the Gallery.