Sturgill Simpson reaches inside himself and extracts an incredible piece of art every time he sets his focus on an album (apparently). I wasn’t sure if I’d like this one on the pre-release tracks alone. I thought it’d be a curious middle finger response to the industry, but not an expertly captured musical mosaic. Damnit, he’s good. From Jon Caramanica’s NYT’s piece previewing the album:
In 2017, after the Grammys, Simpson had sinus surgery, and during his weeks of recovery, took to listening to the music he was raised on, while high on medical-grade edibles. One day, he was reading “Macbeth”: “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
“I was like, that’s how I feel right now,” he recalled. “Like, what is all this really for other than making a bunch of strangers happy and trying to let people have fun?”
Recorded at a vintage-equipment-packed studio in a motor inn in Waterford, Mich., about 45 minutes north of Detroit, “Sound & Fury” is, he said, the product of “therapeutic indignation.” For two weeks, he holed up there with his engineer Paul Cossette and his touring band — Chuck Bartels on bass, Bobby Emmett on keys, Miller on drums — and with Kurosawa films playing on mute, pushed the creaky gear past its comfort zone: “I wanted it to hit like a Wu-Tang record.”
And hit like a Wu-banger it does. My headphones and my car speakers are feeling the compressor setting choices as aggressively as anything RZA made in his prime. I’m yet to watch the accompanying anime film, but I will. Simpson’s done it again.
What happens next for him?
He has no immediate plan to record new music, because his record deal was for two albums and further negotiations haven’t begun. “How much are they willing to pay to hang my little credibility trophy on their wall?” he said, laughing but not exactly joking.
So for the time being, he’ll stay here, out of reach of anyone who might ask him to do anything other than exactly what he wants.
“I just don’t think I need to make compromises or sacrifices to attain things that ultimately I don’t care about,” he said. “I don’t really know what I would [expletive] do up there in the stratosphere anyway, man, you know?”
Time will tell. Give the full album a listen.
Can we call this a single?
The YouTube playlist of the album: