When I played Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” a while ago, I was struck by the fact that he could write an excellent and very genuine country song like Panbowl but didn’t really seem to belong to the genre on a consistent basis. Later I listened to “High Top Mountain” and noted that this was an album that followed the country music conventions but breathed an original and idiosyncratic life into them.
Recently I bought Simpson’s “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” and “Sound & Fury” albums. I can officially declare that Sturgill Simpson’s days as a country musician have ended. A Sailor’s Guide is an album of personal songs, some to his young child, that might be characterized as some kind of combination of folk/pop and a smattering of everything else. Sound and Fury is what a musician I know described as techno-metal.
Whatever they are, they ain’t country. It seems that musicians wander into country via folk music origins, probably because it’s commercially viable and then can’t maintain the interest. I think many of them feel too constrained or long to add other sounds to the mix.
So unless someone tells me that Sturgill Simpson has become possessed by the spirit of Hank Williams Senior I won’t be checking out his subsequent releases.