Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
By Jake Tully
On Sturgill Simpson’s latest release, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, the country singer-songwriter finds himself at odds sounding reminiscent of Alan Jackson in his Don’t Rock The Jukebox heyday while all the while blended with a slight tinge of psychedelia. It’s not to say that Metamodern is Simpson’s offering of overproduced, over-disseminated, chart-topping swill – quite the contrary. It’s more the aforementioned aesthetic on Metamodern Sounds in County Music lends the possibility of leaving the listener nonplussed the first go-around. However, the album’s piquancy soon kicks in (like a Waylon Jennings bass line) and an eventual eureka moment finds both Sturgill and those with headphones strapped on and bourbon in hand enjoying an entirely pleasant spin.
In truth, the Metamodern aspect of Simpson’s work doesn’t come through until the latter half of the album, wherein the bland hootenanny evolves into quite a different beast. It’s in fact a very calculated gradient from opening track “Turtles All The Way Down” to “Just Let Go.” Succinctly executed, it rewards multiple listens for said fact to become apparent.
For that matter, Sturgill’s gentle cerebral nuances throughout the tracks are strikingly subtle. Much like our man Beck Hansen’s handiwork, Simpson catches one off guard even when the thick of it has expectedly passed. One is induced with a certain dose of melancholia whilst listening to Sturgill while still maintaining that brave face when facing the grips of some sublimely honed country music stylings.
Simpson’s cover of When In Rome’s “The Promise” is a stirring rendition of the synth-laden original, his surreal “It Ain’t All Flowers” a chromatic denouement.
In total the album further begs the question of whether the Kentuckian missed out on a zeitgeist long past or if he is effectively creating his own.
Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is a sophomore release to be touted and touted well. Simpson is no doubt on the fast track to garnering a well-deserved place in the modern echelon of country artists.