The Austin Chronicle

Phases & Stages

Reviewed by Kevin Curtin, June 20, 2014, Music

Sturgill Simpson

Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (High Top Mountain)

Dwight Yoakam on LSD? Actually, that rippling tenor belongs to former Sunday Valley frontman Sturgill Simpson, pondering a mental gateway, "Where reptile aliens made of light cut you open and pull out all your pain" on lysergic opener "Turtles All the Way Down." For his second solo LP, the rising rural talent turns his third eye to existential contemplation grounded enough on "Living the Dream" to yield a line like, "I don't need to change my strings 'cause the dirt don't hurt the way I sing." Rocky road ode "Long White Line" should follow "I've Always Been Crazy" on Waylon Jennings' Greatest Hits. Then Simpson warps "It Ain't All Flowers" with tape reverse guitar and discharges a slow-burning cover of When in Rome's Eighties hit "The Promise." Metamodern Sounds in Country Music uses the genre's classic narratives to obscure right and wrong in the search for higher truths.


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