Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds In Country Music was likely one of the more surprising inclusions on our list of the 50 Best Albums Of 2014 So Far, if only because we haven’t previously covered the Kentucky-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter yet. So, let’s catch up: On the face of it, Simpson writes traditionalist country ballads the likes of which you wouldn’t be surprised to hear on a West Texas jukebox in 1971, except his lyrics utterly subvert the conventions of the genre. The best example of this is probably on the album’s leadoff track “Turtles All The Way Down,” which starts out with typical country fare about seeing Jesus but ends up referencing “reptile aliens made of light” who “cut you open and pull out all your pain” as well as marijuana, LSD, space, and time. It’s nearly impossible to hear a line like that in a song like this without startling.
Simpson has stated that he aimed to make a “‘social consciousness’ concept album disguised as a country record.” The thing is, as I explained in my blurb, Simpson’s music is soul-stirring even when he sticks to the script. He exerts a powerful command of his genre’s weepiest forms, and “The Promise” (a cover of the When In Rome hit) is as fine an example as any. That one is a tearjerker about trying to win over the one he loves, promising he’ll always be there even as he can’t stumble into the right words to express his devotion. Graham Uhelski just shot and edited a simple yet effective video for “The Promise,” which you can watch below.
And hey, why not watch the previously released video for the aforementioned “Turtles All The Way Down” too?
Metamodern Sounds In Country Music is out now. Stream it at Bandcamp.