Sunday Valley Album Review & EPK

January 23, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  33 Comments

I had never heard of Sunday Valley until a few months ago, but for 6 years this guitar-driven country band has been making noise in and around Kentucky, opening for such acts as Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers. About a year ago, lead guitarist and singer Sturgill Simpson flipped the proverbial middle finger to his regular 9 to 5’er and decided to give the whole music thing a serious go, and the band put all their chips on their recent release To The Wind And On To Heaven.

First and foremost Sunday Valley is a live band, and that is how they approached this recording. The guitar is unapologetically loud and heavy–kind of the Stevie Ray approach of simply not worrying about what people say, just continue to do it until that is what you’re known for. This is about the loudest and heaviest you will hear guitar that still has the identifiable country “twang.” It reminded me a lot of the more guitar-driven tracks on Marty Stuart’s recent Ghost Train, but even more ballsy and bold.

It’s not easy to capture the live energy a live band is known for in a recording, but To The Wind And On To Heaven does. I really wouldn’t characterize this project as “produced” or “slick” or “polished.” It is simply honest and fearless. And it is accessible. Listen, I know The Shack Shakers are not for everyone, but when you hear Sunday Valley, you think, “Now THIS is what they should be playing on 98.1.”

Along with their heavy-handed rockers, Sunday Valley mixes in a few slower, emotion-driven ballads that still take that same “all in, leave it all out on the stage” approach as the faster, heavier ones. Songs like “Oh, Sarah” and “I Wonder” prove that Sunday Valley is much more than a one-trick pony riding Sturgill Simpson’s fire-breathing telecaster to a short-lived fame. But man, the rockers like “Never Go To Town Again” are just too much fun, with guitar that is just a notch from what you might hear at a heavy metal show. Sturgill knows how to walk up to the line, but not cross it, keeping it solidly country.

Such a cool contrast is struck when Sturgill gets up on stage with his classic, dapper look, almost like a Kentucky-fried Joey Allcorn, and then starts wailing balls-out on the guitar. But don’t let the guitar work fool you, this is not southern rock, this is hard country, and Sturgill backs it up with a thick country incantation to his lyrics. As much as I like Sturgill’s drawl, the lyrics are not always clear, and it’s a shame, because once you slow it down a bit you can tell they’re heartfelt and true. Maybe a little more could have been done to distinguish the loud, heavy tracks from each other as well, but if you started to fumble with the vocals or inserted a producer into the project, you might lose that live feel that is the foundation of this album, and its greatest asset.

Gerald Evans on bass and backing vocals, and Edgar Purdom III on drums also deserve props. Sunday Valley may feel like chaos, but they move forward with a cohesiveness and confident ease, and that contrast adds to the band’s mistique.

Sunday Valley is definitely worth your consideration and raising a blip on your radar, because mark my words, I have a feeling that this will not be the last time you will hear about Sturgill Simpson or this band, from me or others.

Two guns up!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Preview Tracks and Purchase To The Wind And On To Heaven

EPK from Judd Films:

33 Comments to “Sunday Valley Album Review & EPK”

  • Is amazon mp3 the only place to get the album? I’d rather have it on cd.

  • From what I’ve listened to they sound awesome, getting their album off itunes now.

  • I just previewed all these songs on amazon and I was very impressed. While sonically they are definitely their own thing they are still rooted in the blues, a la Hank Williams. Good shit. I will be a buyer down the road, for sure. Thanks for the insight.

  • 1:20 into it, I’d heard enough. Very nice! (I’m gonna listen to the rest now.)

    • I just have to say WOW !

  • The music (okay that one track!) is possibly a little too rock for me, however that EPK was worth every second for those fabulous Kentucky accents! I shall be going over to Amazon right now to check out the other tracks.

    • Too rock? Balderdash. Didn’t you read the review? You can’t be tricked by the heavy guitar. This is country.

      • Yes I read the review! I wasn’t disputing that they are country, I probably should have used the word heavy. That track is a little too heavy for me. Heavy country? I did like some of their ballads that were on Amazon.

        • There’s a new genre: Heavy Root Country :)

          • “Hard root heavy country?”

        • “this is not southern rock, this is hard country

          • I like that too . . . as long as you feel the weight of the pendulum swingin’. . . no more pop country please. Ever.

  • Yeah I like it.

  • Very nice! I’ll be seeking this one out. Does CD Central do mail out?

  • Great review Triggerman, I will defiantly buy a C.D. However, I am wondering if you are going to do a review on David Allan Coe’s new album, D.A.C.s Back?

    • If someone can get me a copy. I’ve got reviews for Bob Wayne, Wanda Jackson, Eddie Spaghetti, and Social Distortion to do, and that is just this week, not to mention the pile of other CD’s to review that is stacked up like a skyscraper diorama on my desk.

      • It’s currently available for download only on C.D. baby or I-Tunes.

        • I listened to the samples online and I’m at a loss for words – it’s sooo horrible. Too bad.

  • Awesome review and an awesome band. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

  • “I think modern country especially, everything you hear on the radio they spend three verses telling you country they are.. “

  • black keys gone cuntry

    • If that’s the case, the drummer needs hipster Buddy Holly specs.

  • that’s awesome stuff! do you think CD central will do a mail order to Australia? I’ll email them and ask. props on using ‘Balderdash’ in a sentance

    • CDBaby.com has it. I’m all set. they got DAC new one as well and Rebel Meets Rebel!!

  • I love the feel of this band, although when they started singing, I thought the audience was singing along with them……..haha… To really appreciate a live performance, you have to be there so we are probably not getting the full deal here, no fault of yours. I tend to like heavy guitar so am going to give these guys a chance! Will go check out those ballads.

    • I think in that second video, the crowd IS singing with them. That was their CD Release show in their hometown so it’s not weird to think the crowd knew the songs.

  • sweet!

  • Triggerman,Thank you for turning me on to these guys, They are truly awesome.” I Wonder” is my favorite,damn song gives me chills. I am flying these guys flag loud and proud. Another great band out of Lexington, if you haven’t heard of them, is Fifth on the Floor. Dirt rock at its finest. They have 2 Cds out. Check them out, I promise you won’t be dissapointed!

  • Saw these guys last night and was BLOWN away! Loved it, like old school country and bluegrass mixed with early metallica. RAW and REAL!

    • Have saw these guys a few times over the years, and they are the real deal. Probably the REALEST band to hit Nashville in many years. I mean, come on..a little Bill Monroe, cow punk, and Hank Williams with a dash of Holliness Church revival thrown in…whats NOT to like about that??

  • “I have a feeling that this will not be the last time you will hear about Sturgill Simpson or this band, from me or others”

    Your magic 8 ball was right.

Leave a comment

Del Maguey
Old Soul Radio Show
Hillgrass Bluebilly
Best Of Lists