Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds” Album Certified Gold

The album that many consider to be Sturgill Simpson’s Magnum Opus, and the one that ultimately was named Saving Country Music’s #1 album of the last decade, has now attained a slightly more meaningful accolade as it has officially been Certified Gold by the RIAA, or Recording Industry Association of America. This means the title has officially sold over 500,000 copies in both physical sales, downloads, and streaming equivalents. It was officially certified on September 23rd.

Released in 2014, Metamodern Sounds was Sturgill Simpson’s breakout release, and helped put him on the map in country music and beyond. Metamodern Sounds wasn’t just well-received by critics, it helped further stimulate a cultural revolution in country music, which at the time was being overrun by Bro-Country in the mainstream. The album inspired Chris Stapleton to record his album Traveller in the same manner as Sturgill—with a small band and mostly live with producer Dave Cobb. It brought renewed interest to country music not found on the radio.

The album took its title from Modern Sounds in Country Music by Ray Charles, which was the 1962 album that introduced many to country music. Metamodern Sounds also introduced many to the other side of country music where traditionalism could still be found, but with a modern kick. It was recorded with Sturgill’s road band at the time, including guitarist Laur Joamets, bass player Kevin Black, and drummer Miles Miller.

Though it was Sturgill Simpson’s next album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth that would earn him a Grammy Award for Best Country Album, and a nomination of all-genre Album of the Year right beside Beyonce, Just Bieber, Adele, and Drake, it was the momentum of Metamodern Sounds that put him there, and as time has attested, it remains his most popular title. The album also includes one of Sturgill’s signature songs, “Turtles All The Way Down.”

Sturgill Simpson joins a slew of artists he helped inspire in country music that have now earned RIAA Certifications despite a lack of mainstream radio support, including Tyler Childers, Cody Jinks, and Whiskey Myers. The Josh Abbott Band, The Dead South, The Avett Brothers, and Wheeler Walker Jr. have also minted gold records in recent years, speaking to the increasing market share for independent artists.

In future decades, there will be a few select records that we point back to as being culturally significant in country music that rise above the crowd of releases. Metamodern Sounds in Country Music will certainly be one of them. And now its sales have finally caught up to its influence.

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