Sturgill Simpson’s First Bluegrass Album Due Out on Friday
Sturgill Simpson's first bluegrass album is due out on Friday (Oct. 16). The singer-songwriter admits in an Instagram post announcing the album that he was hoping for its release to be a surprise, but someone spilled the beans.
A Google search for Simpson's name and the album's title, Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1: The Butcher Shoppe Sessions, reveals that HighResAudio.com is the culprit that "got all excited and just couldn’t hold their horses," per Simpson. His initial Tuesday (Oct. 13) Instagram post shares the album's cover -- a green-and-yellow print of the artist on a ride-on lawnmower -- and release date, while a second features the tracklist, a shot of the also-green-and-yellow double LP and a picture of Simpson and his collaborators in the studio.
Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1 contains 20 tracks, all songs previously released by Simpson or Sunday Valley, the band he was in before beginning his solo career. There'll be bluegrass renditions of "Breakers Roar," "Long White Line," "Turtles All the Way Down" and more, with Simpson pulling from all of his solo albums except 2019's Sound & Fury.
Simpson has been teasing plans for a bluegrass album since the spring of 2020. A now-deleted Instagram video from June 1 showed the artist in a studio -- presumably, based on the record's name, the Butcher Shoppe in Nashville's Germantown neighborhood -- with producer David Ferguson, Tim O'Brien, Stuart Duncan and others. The clip's caption explains that Simpson "promised you a record this year" and has decided to "tak[e] a detour from the five-album plan to cut my entire back catalog of songs for you guys the way they were written and meant to be played ... ruff, rugged n' raw" (quotes via Radio Texas Live).
In the video itself, Simpson hinted that his plan for new music involves bluegrass: "Get your Zyrtec ready, 'cause we cuttin’ that grass," he says.
Per Instagram, O'Brient contributed vocals and guitar to the project, while Duncan plays fiddle on it. Additionally, Mark Howard and Scott Vestal play banjo, Mike Bub plays bass, Sierra Hulla plays mandolin and sings and Miles Miller plays the snare and sings.
Following the release of Sound & Fury, Simpson admitted that he spent $1.2 million making the record and its corresponding anime film in an effort to distance himself from his record label, Elektra Records. In an interview published in February, Simpson threatened to quit music unless the label dropped him, railing against the music industry, producer Dave Cobb and the Recording Academy, which runs the annual Grammy Awards.
Simpson was supposed to be on tour this year with Tyler Childers; however, their trek, like many others, was canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Simpson has said he's ready to tour less to spend more time with his family.
10 Essential Albums for Your Country Music Education: