Published on November 10th, 2014 | by TLV News0
“‘Country Music’s Savior’ Sturgill Simpson – November 11 at Proud Larry’s with Cris Jacobs” by Mary-Katherine Black
Sturgill Simpson, the up-and-coming country music sensation, was born in a small town in Southeastern Kentucky called Jackson. He got his first guitar at a very early age. Simpson said that it’s just what everybody did back home and he’s been playing ever since. After barely graduating high school, he joined the military for a few years followed by working some random jobs. Simpson told Fader, “There were definitely a lot of times where I wasn’t playing music at all. I just put it down. Inevitably I always get pulled back to it.”
In 2004, Simpson formed the bluegrass band, Sunday Valley. They moved to Nashville for a short time, but the fit just wasn’t right at that time in the singer’s career. He then decided to take a break from playing music. Simpson started working for the railroad as a train conductor in Salt Lake City, Utah. Due to family health issues, Simpson moved back to Kentucky and then back to Utah again for work. He slowly began to hate it and music eventually pulled him back again with help of his future wife. Simpson moved back to Nashville in 2010 with the full support of his wife. Later that year he formed a new trio with the old name of Sunday Valley which, according to Savingcountrymusic.com, is “like Sturgill’s native bluegrass sound but electrified and on speed.”
Simpson went solo in 2012. He released his debut solo album the following year titled High Top Mountain which he self-funded and self-released. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel compared Simpson to Waylon Jennings and wrote that his solo album was full of “rich, vintage sounds, heartbreaking ballads and juke-joint ramblers.”
Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, Simpson’s highly acclaimed second album, was released earlier this year. This country cosmic release was met with positive reviews. This genius album has the feel of an old country record with new and original sounds and influences.
Sturgill Simpson is a one-of-a-kind artist with incredible talent. Some have even titled him as “Country Music’s Savior.” Simpson didn’t seem to enjoy that title, according to an interview with Rolling Stone. When asked what he thought about it, he very respectfully stated that he didn’t “have anything to really offer there,” and that he just wants “to write music that pertains to his life as honestly as he can.”
Although Simpson doesn’t consider himself the savior of country music, he is definitely helping to portray country music in a new light—well, a newer light to people who only listen to modern country. Simpson is bringing traditional country music sounds back into the light and it is greatly appreciated. Even a lot of people who claim to dislike country music enjoy Sturgill Simpson’s music because it is so different than what is being played on the radio today. Simpson responded to the new lovers of country music in an interview with Fader by saying, country music is “about as honest a form of American music as you’re going to find. I’m not trying to burn anything down, I’m just trying to give people what I’m not hearing or seeing anywhere myself: a different alternative, the possibility that it can be different than what you’re seeing.”
Simpson is continuing to gain popularity and is quickly becoming known in today’s music scene. His television network debut was on July 14 of this year on the Late Show with David Letterman. He was recently named the Emerging Artist of the Year at the Americana Honors & Awards show. He also played at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and opened the final night of Jason Isbell’s three-night stand at the historic location. Simpson has opened for artists such as Dwight Yoakam and Zac Brown Band.
This article was originally printed in
The Local Voice #216 (published November 6, 2014).
To download the PDF of this issue, click here.