Sturgill Simpson's latest album, "Metamodern Sounds In Country Music," has been garnering some great early reviews. Not that he's had a lot of time to read them, as he's got other things on his mind.
"Our first child is coming in about a month, and everything else has kind of taken a giant back seat," he admitted to Billboard. "I generally don't pay too much attention to everything, but so far so good, I guess. I anticipated a career suicide with it, but people surprise you. In the age of tailgating and spring breaks, everybody wants to hear songs about that."
Simpson's music – as well as his current album – is far from those themes. "I wanted it to be very raw, and try to incorporate elements that there are still a lot of room – especially in country music for – a lot of elements outside of country that I listened to as a kid that I wanted to inject. We've spent the last year on the road, and we've been testing all these new songs. I just figured it was time to get into the studio and knock it out. We've been playing it live anyway, so we might as well record it. There were also some songs that I wrote while on the road that bookended the record, and I realized we had a theme or a concept. I was just trying to get my sound down on tape."
And, that sound has found a home both here in the United States, as well as overseas, where he enjoys a great following. Simpson was just announced as one of the nominees for Emerging Act of the Year for September's Americana Honors & Awards, and he just wrapped up a pre-release tour in the UK and Ireland.
"That's where it all came from – at least the bluegrass and country that I grew up on – that's where it all originated, and the hillbillies kind of stole it from Scotch-Irish settlers. It's always been a dream to travel there, and to see it for the first time with a guitar in my hand. They are some of the most attentive and appreciative audiences on the entire planet. When I go over there, it's tough coming back to the States. When people go to shows there, they actually come to listen. Over here, there may be three to five hundred people who will pay ten to fifteen dollars to come to see you play, but they talk to you the whole show, which I'll never understand."
Simpson is grateful for the critical acclaim the new disc and his 2013 debut "High Top Mountain" – have both received, but he admits that's not why he does what he does.
"None of that has anything to do with what we are trying to accomplish. It's great for raising awareness, and when I first got started, I did used to read some of that stuff. You tend to start wondering if they did actually listen to the record, or whether it was a blurb to knock out before lunch. I've found for me that it was more of a distraction – something you've just got to tune out. If it's all good and it's smoke being blown up your ass, and you start investing faith in it all, that's a good way for you to set yourself up for a long hard fall. We're just trying to keep moving forward. I'm not pursuing a mainstream career, so I feel that I have the freedom to make the kind of records I want to. That's a good feeling."