Sunday Valley Album Review & EPK
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:
January 23, 2011 @ 10:59 am
Is amazon mp3 the only place to get the album? I’d rather have it on cd.
January 23, 2011 @ 11:23 am
It is also available on I-tunes and the CD can be purchased from CD Central in Lexington, KY. http://www.cdcentralmusic.com/aboutus.html
January 23, 2011 @ 11:21 am
From what I’ve listened to they sound awesome, getting their album off itunes now.
January 23, 2011 @ 11:55 am
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.
January 23, 2011 @ 2:12 pm
1:20 into it, I’d heard enough. Very nice! (I’m gonna listen to the rest now.)
January 23, 2011 @ 2:23 pm
I just have to say WOW !
January 23, 2011 @ 5:07 pm
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.
January 23, 2011 @ 8:11 pm
Too rock? Balderdash. Didn’t you read the review? You can’t be tricked by the heavy guitar. This is country.
January 25, 2011 @ 3:05 pm
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.
January 25, 2011 @ 4:58 pm
There’s a new genre: Heavy Root Country 🙂
January 26, 2011 @ 3:54 pm
“Hard root heavy country?”
January 25, 2011 @ 6:18 pm
“this is not southern rock, this is hard country“
January 25, 2011 @ 9:38 pm
I like that too . . . as long as you feel the weight of the pendulum swingin’. . . no more pop country please. Ever.
January 23, 2011 @ 7:47 pm
Yeah I like it.
January 23, 2011 @ 8:49 pm
Very nice! I’ll be seeking this one out. Does CD Central do mail out?
January 24, 2011 @ 4:34 am
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?
January 24, 2011 @ 10:06 am
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.
January 24, 2011 @ 12:32 pm
It’s currently available for download only on C.D. baby or I-Tunes.
Martin Luther Presley
August 1, 2011 @ 8:22 am
I listened to the samples online and I’m at a loss for words – it’s sooo horrible. Too bad.
January 24, 2011 @ 7:22 am
Awesome review and an awesome band. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.
January 24, 2011 @ 8:16 am
“I think modern country especially, everything you hear on the radio they spend three verses telling you country they are.. “
January 24, 2011 @ 10:07 am
I picked up on that line too.
January 24, 2011 @ 9:19 am
black keys gone cuntry
January 24, 2011 @ 10:07 am
If that’s the case, the drummer needs hipster Buddy Holly specs.
January 24, 2011 @ 5:15 pm
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
January 24, 2011 @ 7:32 pm
CDBaby.com has it. I’m all set. they got DAC new one as well and Rebel Meets Rebel!!
January 25, 2011 @ 6:10 pm
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.
January 25, 2011 @ 6:21 pm
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.
January 25, 2011 @ 8:05 pm
February 1, 2011 @ 6:40 pm
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!
May 21, 2011 @ 9:00 pm
Saw these guys last night and was BLOWN away! Loved it, like old school country and bluegrass mixed with early metallica. RAW and REAL!
February 13, 2012 @ 8:31 pm
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??
September 5, 2014 @ 6:56 pm
“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.
Defend Austin sound
April 10, 2017 @ 3:48 am
The moment Trigger found Sturgill. Thankfully Charlie Roberson had the foresight as well. That December 2012 night at the Rattle Inn here in Austin must of been soaked with memories especially with Sturgill covering Waymore Blues. I wonder if the Rattle Inn has the show poster from Sturg’s atx debut that 8 people witnessed. And to think I was downtown that night on West 6th. Fuck my life.