Sturgill Simpson fans will have to wait patiently for another six months or so for new music for the Kentucky songwriter. But rest assured, new music is on the way.
Sturgill Simpson preliminarily finished the recording of his third album back in the spring of 2015 when he went into the studio with producer Dave Cobb. It was announced in January of 2015 that Sturgill Simpson had signed to Atlantic Records, and then in June of 2015, Sturgill signed a worldwide publishing deal with Downtown Music Publishing, setting the stage for the release of the new record.
According to a blurb posted by the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, which Sturgill Simpson will play in late June/early July, “A new album…will land in the summer of 2016. So when Sturgill and band visits Roskilde, they’ll bring lots of new tunes.” Sturgill has explained previously that he is resisting the urge to play any new music from the new album in concert because he doesn’t want to create any false expectations in the minds of listeners.
The information out of Roskilde also corroborates with the timeline Sturgill presented in a new GQ feature posted Thursday (1-7).
“What’s next is already finished,” Sturgill told GQ. “I don’t want to put it out just yet, because I know I’m just going to have to turn around and do what I just did all over again. Quite honestly, I need about six months at home with my family. And hopefully, instead of being out on the road, I’ll be doing what’s-next-what’s-next, you know? For me it’s all about being in the moment and having freedom.”
In the interview, Simpson also assured that the artistic expression on the new record wasn’t hindered by anyone else’s timeline.
“In the mechanics of the industry, the art comes last. But the art is what can’t be put on a timeline. You can’t say, ‘Well, I’m going to make a record in May because that’s when the producer has a window.’ So just recording and getting things out is paramount for me. That has to be spontaneous. You’re gonna bottle this time capsule. You don’t want the band to even know the songs.”
As far as what listeners might expect, Sturgill dropped some hints on this point as well.
“I just don’t see myself as a songwriter or a country singer or any of those things anymore,” he said. “It’s more trying to express ideas and emotional textures. Everything from the writing to the production to the performance and how it all comes together. All I’m really interested in musically is trying to make concept albums. Serving a larger sum than the parts. I just can’t sit down and write three verses and a chorus and a bridge anymore. It (sic) just don’t find it inspiring.”
The GQ interview was part of an expansive, four-part feature from the magazine that also includes Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton, calling them Three Country Badasses Shaking Up the Nashville Establishment. GQ also interviewed Jason Isbell, who they called the New King of Americana Music, and Chris Stapleton, who GQ dubbed Country Music’s Cinderella Story.
In Stapleton’s interview, he tipped his hat to Strugill Simpson’s last album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, as inspiring him to work with producer Dave Cobb, and to take a similar live approach to the record.
“Yeah, well, I liked the sound of that record,” Stapleton says. “Sonically, I didn’t know that something like that could still exist. I thought it was something we had lost to modern techniques, technology, something. In the past, I’d never gotten engineers or producers to really go for it the way that I heard it in my head. But [producer] Dave Cobb is not afraid to do anything. He’s not afraid of anything in the studio. He’s not afraid to make a record that doesn’t sound like what else is going on. He doesn’t compare the sound of a record to other records. He says, ‘I want to make it sound like whatever this is supposed to sound like.’ And that’s a radical thought process.”
Unspoken is the possibility that Sturgill’s commercial success with Metamodern allowed Stapleton’s label to warm to the idea of doing a record with the Dave Cobb approach.
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The summer of 2016 seems a long way away when you’re waiting for new music from one of your favorite artists, but it’s also assuring to know new Sturgill Simpson music is on the way nonetheless.