With the exception of a few artists, modern country has taken a hard left turn for the worse over the past two decades. Ask some people, and they might even say country’s become a shell of its former self. Sturgill Simpson is not one of those people—mostly because he doesn’t seem to care what is happening within the confines of the country music world. Instead the Kentucky-born singer looks to more far-out places on his second full-length, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music.
One of the first things you’ll notice is Simpson’s voice, which conjures the ghost of Waylon Jennings. In fact, that’s how I discovered him. I was walking outside a small venue at Portland’s Pickathon music festival last summer, and Simpson’s burly baritone stopped me in my tracks. Once I saw the stripped-down trio—Simpson on acoustic guitar, Kevin Black on electric bass and drummer Miles Miller—I was immediately on board with their classic leanings, but also with how unforced and real it sounded.
The songs owe as much to Carl Sagan as they do Merle Haggard, most notably on the almost seven-minute “It Ain’t All Flowers,” which takes ’70s outlaw country on a sizzling acid trip. Chemicals have their place on this record. Quote! “Every time I take a look inside that old and fabled book/I’m blinded and reminded of the pain caused by some old man in the sky/Marijuana, LSD, psilocybin, DMT, they all changed the way I see/But love’s the only thing that’s ever saved my life,” Simpson sings on opener “Turtles All the Way Down,” a song inspired by psychiatrist and psychedelic drug proponent Rick Strassman. Taken from ~Paste -by Mark Lore
We’re also going to have a listen to “The Promise,” a cover song by the new wave one-hit wonder When In Rome.
Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain
Oberst has also been heavily influenced by the 1960s folk revival, mentioning Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and country singers Emmylou Harris, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt. He covered Neil Young's "Out on the Weekend", collaborating with Mike Mogis, Jim James and M. Ward in concert. He performed the Townes Van Zandt song "Rex's Blues" live with fellow musician Steve Earle. He has also performed two of John Prine's songs live, "Crazy as a Loon" and "Wedding Day in Funerville". Emmylou Harris sang on a few tracks on Bright Eyes' I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning.
His brand new solo record, titled Upside Down Mountain, was released on May 20, 2014. He has been working with producer Jonathan Wilson and Swedish duo First Aid Kit.