"If any album of 2014 can be said to have received “universal acclaim,” it’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, released in May by country artist Sturgill Simpson. A mesmerizing and sometimes bewildering mix of traditional country sounds, contemporary philosophy, and psychedelic recording-studio wizardry, the album’s appeal appears to cross all boundaries of age and genre."
“The 26 Best Songs of 2014 (so far) "...a long strange trip that's as much Hawking as it is honky-tonk."”
"With fiery guitar skills to back up his forceful voice, Simpson presents rock-infused country that pushes beyond easily-digested pop country. His catchy, easy -listening melodies mask the depth and dynamism of his lyrics. If anyone can bridge the gap between real country and mainstream country, it's Simpson."
"..it's sure to be one of the best (decidedly country) releases of the year." "It's an incredible, important addition to country music."
“10 Country Artists You Should Be Listening To "Sturgill Simpson might be the smartest man in country music's history."”
"...has a late-70's country flavor, built around a small, versatile band and Simpson's resonant, hackle-raising baritone...what sets the album apart is how he takes full advantage of his independence to start conversations about abstract topics like the nature of consciousness in a very concrete, relatable way."
"...an album both modern and timeless."
"10 Best summer concert tours" "Fans of genuine, unpolished, wry country can rejoice."
“25 Favorite Albums of 2014 (So Far) "There are people who fret about the health and purity of country music and there are those who just keep the damn stuff alive. On his second solo album, Sturgill Simpson pumps oxygen into familiar forms...with the no-fuss creativity of a rebel with a cause, and a plan."”
“45 Best Albums of 2014 so Far "Picture what Waylon would have sounded like if he had taken Willie's drugs: Kentucky's Sturgill Simpson made a record that is equal parts haunted, tender and triply.”
"....his songs transcend the generic outlaw country themes.."
“Sturgill Simpson is the Radiohead of country music.”
"The sound is perfect...it's a brilliant album. It isn't common that an album an resonate with me as much as this one."
"Can you go backwards in a genre and move it forward; I think that Sturgill Simpson just proved it with this album."
"Simply put, Simpson shoots for the country stars on Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. And he soars."
"...continues to redefine what it means to be a country musician."
"In the end, this is a record that needs to be heard to be understood. It's a record of truths, both person & universal, both surprising & well-worn, & it will speak to your heart. If you don't listen to it now, you'll end up hearing it sooner or later....if by some tragedy Sturgill doesn't win Emerging Act of the Year at the AMA's, you can bet your bottom dollar you'll find this record on the top of many a list come year end."
"Simpson's dark, psychedelic reclaiming of the genre is thrilling and totally necessary."
"It's proof that Sturgill Simpson is the real deal, bar none!"
"Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is destined to be a modern classic."
"With Sturgill helping to lead the charge, country music is beginning to sound as fresh today as it did back in the day. Can I get an amen?"
"More importantly hear how country music can be modernized and evolve without being packaged into radio-friendly drivel."
"Sturgill Simpson was a must-catch at SXSW...He writes vivid, visceral songs and has a Waylon Jennings manner about him."
"Surely one of the strangest country-music albums I've heard in a long time. It's also one of the most authentic-sounding new country albums to cross my eardrums in a long while." "He sounds down to earth even when you think he's lost in space"
"...a heartfelt and wonderfully imperfect record from a limitless talent who's still getting a feel for the empty space around him."
"...taking progressive sonic journeys and lyrically exploring the bounds of his imagination and emotions, he created the most authentic, honest and important country record in quite some time."
"At a time when country seems to cater to the audience with fewest brain cells, it's refreshing to hear someone actually give listeners something to think about."
"Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is wildly adventurous; it extends the musical promise outlaw music made to listeners over 40 years ago. Simpson is too honest, restless and dedicated to country music's history to simply frame it as a museum piece. As an artist of uncommon ability, he has learned from its hallowed lineage and history that, in order for it to evolve, it cannot be reined in; it must create it's own future. His work on this album opens the gate on that frontier."
"...an eclectic mix of outlaw country, Southern gospel and bluegrass that's a little Waylon that would make any of the old-timers proud."
"...a breath of fresh air, bringing not only a sense of sincerity and self-awareness to a deeply-rooted honky tonk, but also a wry sense of humor and innovative ideas that bring a storied style into the 21st century without watering it down."
"With fiery guitar skills to back up his forceful voice, Simpson presents rock-infused country that pushes beyond easily-digested pop country. His catchy, easy listening melodies mask the depth and dynamism of his lyrics. If anyone can bridge the gap between real country and mainstream country, it's Simpson."
"J.K. Rowling and country music artist Sturgill Simpson have something in common: They've both created art that is controversial among traditionalists while focusing on love as their core message."
"Metamodern is just honest, from-the-gut songwriting and a backing band that can really cook. there are touches of that funky Outlaw sound, as well as bluegrass, soulful balladry and even swirling psychedelia."
"...it's sure to be one of the best (decidedly country) releases of the year." "It's an incredible, important addition to country music."
"Sturgill Simpson, and Sturgill Simpson alone, defines the pinnacle, and what is relevant in the here and now of independent country music. And he's done it from the sheer strength of this album."
"...uses the genre's classic narratives to obscure right and wrong in the search for higher truths."
"...seriously one of the more moving and elegantly produced traditional/old-school country albums in recent memory."
"When you get right down to it, what Simpson has done is incarnate a world in which he can make a soulful, roundtrip commute between coal country and cosmology, and that's anything but ridiculous-it's downright remarkable."
"...to know where you're going, it's important to know where you've been, and drawing inspiration from the past doesn't necessarily mean simple regurgitation. For Sturgill Simpson, what's old is wondrously, excitingly and bizarrely new again.
"Simpson's fearless dive into the deep end feels downright revolutionary in an era where, somewhat like countrypolitan being thwarted by outlaw country's intentions of reclamation, Nashville's focus is upon the slick and shallow."
"Here, the singer's heart sits squarely in traditional country. But more than any country artist since fellow Kentuckian Dwight Yokam, Simpson....bends and recasts those traditions into music that is wholly his own without ever losing sight of the inspirations that fortified those sounds to begin with."
"...the Kentucky bred Nashville outsider wight he Waylon Jennings baritone who is about to blow minds with this album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music..."
"...an alert, artistic, original mind at work."
"If there's an underlying meaning, it's that country music can be wherever (and whenever) real passion leads you....""
"Simpson's music is soul-stirring even when he sticks to the script. He exerts a powerful command of his genre's weepiest forms, and 'The Promise' is a fine an example as any.
"One of my favorite country songs of the year isn't even a country song."
"....a gifted songwriter whose talent is undeniable."
"He favors clear melodies, careful structures, and riffs that draw on Nashville and Bakersfield traditions without sounding revivalist."
"....Simpson not only owns the best name in current country music but comprehends the genre as a vehicle for big, unwieldy ideas about human consciousness and the nature of life."
"We'll be lucky to hear a stronger album-country or otherwise-this year."
"...among the year’s freshest and most singular releases."
"Simpson may reside in Nashville these days, but he's operating on a completely different plane. Here's hoping his own mind-expanding experiments will expand the minds of listeners as well."
"Metamodern is what country music should sound like: No sheen. No gloss. A little ass-kicking Southern rock....."
"....delivers it with gentle stalwartness, testifying powerfully to the magnitude of love."
"This strange dichotomy is what gives Sturgill Simpson his unique brilliant streak that shines through in his music that is both fiercely traditional and forward thinking."
"The cosmic cowboy of the digital age...here's a man who understands the power of tradition, and who's livening things up from the inside."
"Simpson's newest songs contain all the love, loneliness, good times and dread that define country, but they also go to greater lengths to suss out the meaning of life."
"The album salts old-school country, bluegrass and gospel sounds with hints of psychedelia and even electronica-although fans of his authentic-country creed aren't likely to be disappointed."
"Nothing on Metamodern sounds forced; simpson has perfected the trick of distilling classic country from many eras and moving away from it at the same time.
"...one of the most jolting country albums in recent memory, and one that achieves majesty with just the barest of parts."
"It's a work of significant reflection, instrumental experimentation and emotional evolution, influenced by but not imitative of the works of Roy Orbison, Otis Redding and Waylon Jennings. It's a mighty, yet mightily considered, roar."
"It is the best country record of the year, hands down. That is, if you can even call it country. Frankly, I don’t know what it is, except for brilliant…" "Sturgill Simpson's new masterpiece."
“His psychedelic new video for “Turtles All the Way Down” hammers the point home. While Simpson’s voice is inescapably country, the sensory overload of tie-dyed visuals combined with lyrics about aliens, drugs and a stack of turtles carrying the world on their backs put the song on another plane of existence.”
“Metamodern Sounds in Country Music sums up Simpson’s self-conscious (and occasionally deconstructionist) approach to roots music, starting with the idea that it can (and should) reflect modern-day realities.”
"With Metamodern, Sturgill Simpson has created something genuinely peculiar but astonishingly compelling. The sound of a search for love through the vales of drugs, drink, hard living and old time religion still belongs to a voice with a Southern drawl and to a sound laced with twang. The best of Country has always been wonderfully bizarre; Sturgill Simpson fits right in."
"The groove Simpson finds with his band is loose and immediate. At times the playing gets almost psychedelic. At other times players circle back on old styles like Southern gospel and do them right. At the center of it all is Simpson, a hot guitar player and mighty singer whose insistence on being complicated makes Metamodern Sounds far richer than most emerging artists’ wrestling matches with tradition.”
".. this is a powerhouse album where the boldest lyrical ideas are steeped in old-school sounds — "
"…Sturgill plays serious hard-boiled country in the Bakersfield vein of Haggard and Owens, with a double shot of bluegrass-style hot-shit picking and a 21st century attitude."
".. few transcendent troubadours at SXSW seemed more comfortable in their blue jeans than country outsider Sturgill Simpson, whose powerful honky-tonk tunes were inspired by life on the road and the Tibetan Book of the Dead."
"Simpson has the kind of badass baritone that air-brushed beefcake contemporary country stars dream about."
"In a world of crossover country artists dominating the charts, Sturgill Simpson is the last true cowboy. A honky tonk troubadour who's not afraid to play a country ballad followed by a bluegrass toe-tapper. "
"Sounds Like: Merle Haggard with a stack of books on cosmology and metaphysics."
"Gig inside a church, I can’t decide whether to dance, or kneel or die"
“Sturgill writes and sings songs exactly as a man named Sturgill should,” Isbell says. “He’s the genuine article, and his work reminds me of the country music I fell in love with as a kid: ornery, smart, and soulful.””
“This Kentucky-bred, Nashville-based honky-tonk hero makes country music rooted in the lean, mean traditions of Merle and Waylon, but follows his own muse.”