An Album You Must Listen to: Sturgill Simpson’s ‘Metamodern Sounds In Country Music’

I first heard about Sturgill Simpson on the NPR “All Songs Considered” best of 2014 podcast.

You just have to listen to his album that came out this year, “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.” (It currently has 282 ratings on Amazon, 248 of which are five-stars.)

Here’s NPR’s take:

In case you need a clue as to where Simpson is coming from, the title comes in handy: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music nods to the genre-expanding Ray Charles classic Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and tells you he’s going to fold country’s conventions over on themselves as if he’s trying to create some kind of musical space-time portal. He shows up on the cover in a photo that looks as if it had been pulled out of a Civil War-era locket, with long hair and untrimmed mustache. The background, of course, is outer space. Here’s a list of the jobs held by the eight people Simpson thanks in the album’s credits: molecular biologist, psychonaut, science-fiction author, astronomer, theoretical physicist, psychopharmacologist and computer programmer. The way Simpson is gunning, he’s going to freak some people out.

The funny thing is, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is absolutely country, from the roadhouse-ready “Life of Sin” to the lonesome-skyline blues of “Voices” to the revival-tent call-and-response stomp of “A Little Light.” The two covers on the album are of Buford Abner’s “Long White Line” (which appeared on both Charlie Moore & Bill Napier’s Truckin’ Favorites and Aaron Tippin’s In Overdrive) and When in Rome’s 1988 hit “The Promise,” which appeared in the closing credits to Napoleon Dynamite. Both would sound at home at the Ryman.

Embedded above and on YouTube here: “Life of Sin.”

I’ve also heard good things about his first album, “High Top Mountain,” but haven’t checked it out yet. I will soon, though.

Published by Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal, based in New Delhi. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I read, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. Join the growing group of readers who get my weekly email newsletter.

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