On Sunday’s 2015 installment of the Grammy Awards, five albums from country music’s top A-list performers were up for Best Country Album. But at that moment, Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, released all the way back in May of 2014, was beating all five of the Grammy contenders on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. While Metamodern Sounds sat at #8, Miranda Lambert’s Platinum (the eventual winner) sat at #10, Eric Church’s The Outsiders was at #9, and Brandy Clark’s and Dierks Bentley’s albums weren’t even in the Top 25.
It was too late for this to weigh on the decision to not only exclude Metamodern Sounds from the Best Country Album category, but couldn’t even factor into a potential win for Sturgill in the Best Americana Album category. Eventually Rosanne Cash’s The River & The Thread walked away with the distinction. But that didn’t cease Metamodern‘s continued positive push, selling 2,800 copies just last week, and putting the album past an important century mark of having certified sales of 100,000 copies. Not bad for an independent release supported by virtually no radio play, in an environment of dramatically decreasing sales for complete albums.
Making the feat even more exceptional is that it doesn’t seem to be stimulated by any specific news. There was a small feature in Playboy recently on Sturgill, and of course the news of the Grammy nomination and his signing with Atlantic Records caused some of a stir. But overall Sturgill appears to be continuing to climb under his own volition, and not to be plateauing or coming to the crest of an album release cycle as per usual. He may even be just now hitting his stride.
On Thursday night (2-12), he’s scheduled to play the Late Show with David Letterman for the second time—a show that includes the high profile Tom Hanks as the other guest. Currently amidst a sold out American tour that is making news locally everywhere he goes from the run on tickets and the buzz the concerts are getting, there seems to be no ceiling on Sturgill’s upside potential.