Sturgill Simpson "The Promise" video

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.

Comments (4)
  1. “I’m sorry but I’m just thinking of the right words to say….!”

  2. One of my favorite tracks of the year.

  3. Erm, beautiful song, yes, but does no one remember the When in Rome original? Simpson didn’t write this.

    That being said, I’m OBSESSED with Sturgill Simpson right now. So good.

    • Yea, I thought of pointing that out as well, since it wasn’t entirely clear in the post. Although I will say that while I definitely recognized it, I could not place the original song in my head when I was listening to the album the first time and had to google the lyrics because it was driving me crazy. Part of the genius of his version, for me at least, is the complete re-imagining of it.

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