Sturgill Simpson won many fans with his 2013 debut album, High Top Mountain. It is unapologetic in its evocation of '70s outlaw country.
For his sophomore date, he and his band entered a Nashville studio with producer/engineer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell), and cut Metamodern Sounds in Country Music live-to-tape in four days.
These songs and their production values, though immediately recognizable, are more varied and textured than those of his debut--there's no pedal steel here for one thing. The Waylon Jennings-esque quality in Simpson's singing voice remains, but that's built in. His songwriting and confidence have grown exponentially. The set is introduced by his 82-year-old coal-mining grandfather Dood Fraley on opener and first single "Turtles All the Way Down."
The track features Cobb's nylon-string guitar, the wafting tapes of a Mellotron, electric bass, acoustic and electric guitars, and sharp drums framing Simpson's lyrics that refer to Jesus, the Old Testament, Buddha, mythology, cosmology, drugs, and physics, before concluding that "love is the only thing that saved my life," making it a glorious cosmic cowboy song.