Sturgill Simpson is full of shit.
I don’t need to change my strings
The dirt don’t hurt the way I sing
Every element of Simpson’s latest album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, is highly calculated, from the title’s coy nod to Ray Charles’ 1962 album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, to Simpson eschewing Nashville-penned songs for his two covers. Such contrivances amount to a sly middle finger to Music Row’s machinations.
For Simpson, this approach is no risk, high reward. Releasing Metamodern Sounds in Country Music on his own imprint, he is free to downplay his own talent in a dirty baritone, intent on shifting the paradigm of today’s country music. Book-ended by the cosmic opener, “Turtles All the Way Down,” and guttural closer “It Ain’t All Flowers,” Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is undoubtedly country. Despite its forward-looking title, the album is steeped in the genre’s tradition and sound. From the honky-tonking “Life of Sin” with its archetypal relationship foundation to the redemptive gospel of “A Little Light Within,” Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is both fresh and classic on every note.
Simpson’s greatest trick is his take on When In Rome’s ’80s hit, “The Promise.” Turning new wave schmaltz into an earnest, radio-ready ballad, Simpson further thumbs his nose at Nashville’s current practices without a hint of irony.
With his one-man fight to ensure the future of country music embraces and expands its roots, Simpson has released one of the best albums of 2014, regardless of genre. Assuredly the best country album to date, if other artists heed Metamodern Sounds in Country Music the world will be a better place thanks to Simpson.
Watch the video for “Turtles All the Way Down” and stream/purchase Metamodern Sounds in Country Music below.