I had not heard of Sturgill Simpson until attending a Gamecock baseball game this past April. It was a cold day (luckily we had box seats) and I was talking with my friend Ryan, who I had invited along. Ryan and I don’t see each other often, but we’re always emailing and exchanging CDs and telling each other about what we’re listening to at the moment. I remember last year at a game he was telling me about St. Paul and the Broken Bones. This time he was raving about a guy named Sturgill Simpson, and his new album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music that Ryan had gotten an advance copy of. I forget exactly how Ryan described his music, but his wife agreed that “he was crazy about him right now.”
A few days after the game, I googled the guy, and sure enough, I was hooked as well. I pegged him as a “New Waylon Jennings” and thought I was pretty clever until reading other reviewers that had nailed this long before it came out of my mouth. Thus, I could not claim fame for that classification, just as I have no way to prove that my ancestors invented the question mark.
From the opening lines of “Turtles All The Way Down”, the first track on Metamodern, I kind of fell in love and thought this guy was a genius, and that the production was flawless. Looking into the matter more, I realized that it was Dave Cobb behind the knobs and producing the album, as well as playing a little guitar. I’ve worked with Dave, and the album he recorded for my band got us signed by Universal Records in the early 2000’s, when he was virtually an unknown. Now he is producing some of Nashville’s rising alt-country stars and doing a damn fine job at it. I have no doubt that part of Sturgill’s success is due to Cobb’s work in the studio.
Beyond Cobb however, is Sturgill’s band, who are as tight as a fiddle string, and Sturgill’s lyrics, which lay it all on the line and speak his truth.
Example One, “Living the Dream,” where he sings:
“Walking around living the dream anytime I take the notion/Til the truth comes bubbling up so bittersweet”
Example Two, “Pan Bowl” where he sings:
“Every Sunday we’d go visit my great-grandma Mary Ann/Lord I cry just thinking about how good she was to me.”
Example Three, GO BUY THIS ALBUM AND SEE FOR YOURSELF.
Seriously folks, if we can get THIS kind of stuff to be on the CMA Awards, all our hearts will grow three sizes.
RIYL: The smell of fresh cut grass, Your grandma, All things good
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