Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Josh Niles at Big Light, Nashville, Tennessee
The world that Sturgill Simpson sings about is populated with cheats, heartbreakers and kicks in the balls. It's a world that most people can't help visiting occasionally and some have no choice but to live amongst all of those things. It's a place where heads are hung in shame, where everywhere you're heading is up a steep hill. There are assholes and moochers directing traffic - making sure that you're stuck chasing your tail until there's no chasing left to be done. You're probably always stuck wondering how you got there - if you're one of those people - and it's a problem that you can never seem to remedy, no matter how hard you try.
Simpson is a songwriter who comes to us out of the footsteps of country music's genius past. He comes to us from that fertile history that Waylon Jennings and all of his pals wrote. It was the last golden era of country music and you can hear it in these spectacularly downtrodden songs about cheating women and hard damned times that are so easy to drink and toast to. He writes about pain and heartache in a way that makes you root for it. You'd like there to be more of the stuff so he never runs out of material, for he spins it all into something that sounds rowdy and philosophic all at once. It's slightly golden.
He sings on "Some Days," "Some days you kill it and some days you just choke/Some days you blast off and some days it's just smoke." It's a thought that's meant to tame expectations - to keep everything in perspective - but it's still hard to get through the smoke and, really, what's the real difference between a day that chokes you or one that kills you?