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Sturgill Simpson, Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 Album Review

By Phjoshua @thereviewsarein

Sturgill Simpson Goes Bluegrass In The Butcher Shoppe Sessions

, the oft-unheralded, overlooked, under-appreciated, GRAMMY award-winning country artist from Jackson, Kentucky has gone back to his Appalachian roots with a massive 20-track bluegrass album, Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1.

The album didn't get a long lead-up or time for hype. It didn't come with a multi-level, coordinated marketing push. It got recorded, released, and now it's here for all of our enjoyment. And it does that job wonderfully.

The album is compiled of 20 bluegrass versions of previously recorded songs from Sturgill Simpson's library ( A Sailor's Guide To Earth, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, High Top Mountain, To the Wind and On to Heaven [Sunday Valley]), including the first single, fan-favourite, I Don't Mind from his Sunday Valley days.

Sturgill Simpson - I Don't Mind

Sturgill Simpson credits his grandpa for introducing him to bluegrass when he was a kid, long before he would go on to become an award-winning artist himself. He says that he wasn't old enough to appreciate it them, but that his grandpa told him, "One day it's gonna get in ya, and it'll never get out." He was right.

With that in mind, this is what Simpson says about making Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1, "I had it in my mind for a long time that someday I want to cut as many of these songs as possible in this fashion, just organic and stripped down to the raw bones of the composition. If you can't sit down and play a song like that, it's probably a pretty shitty song."

That belief about being able to strip down a good song and give it a new life in a less produced way is familiar, and I believe it too. Maybe not as strictly as Sturgill does, but I do believe that a good song can be stripped-down and given a new life. It also helps when you have great musicians in all of the important supporting roles.

Simpson says that he called his engineer/co-producer/partner-in-crime, David Ferguson and told him to "Get all the best players in town." From there, he says that they got into the studio and recorded the entire album in about three days without any planning, preparation or rehearsal.

Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1, The Butcher Shoppe Sessions Players

There's a complex and beautiful simplicity to these songs in their bluegrass arrangements. The players all come together to make them sound like they've always been supposed to sound this way. Simpson sings them like this is how he always imagined them. And the production allows them to happen and feel organic, not get in the way or cover them up.

The history of bluegrass music is long and storied. It is local and international. It is old and new. It's front porches and barn dances and the Opry and recording studios. And with these 20 songs, Sturgill Simpson has made himself part of that history and story. It's the music of his home, now through his voice, and songs.

In his own opinion, All The Pretty Colors is the most "definitively bluegrass" song on the album. Hit play to give it a listen now.

Sturgill Simpson - All The Pretty Colors

Sturgill Simpson has been one of the favourite artists of other artists for years now. He has admirers all over the place for his songwriting, ability to create songs that have feeling and depth, and for being his own man. Back in 2016 at the Canadian Country Music Awards, JJ Shiplett , , and Blackie Jackett Jr. all named Simpson as the artist they thought folks should be listening to more when we played rounds of 5 Quick Questions. They weren't wrong then and they're still right now.

To read more from Sturgill Simpson on the creation and more about Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1 - . It's a great read and makes us really want to sit down and talk to him about bluegrass and country and rock and roll and more.

In his own words, "Bluegrass music is healing. I truly believe this to be true." I can't tell you if that's true or not, but I can tell you that on two consecutive days, I turned on this album and let it play and I felt good. And in times like these with political uncertainty, the pandemic, systemic injustices finally being spotlighted, and more - an album that makes me feel good does feel like healing.

Hit play on the stream now to hear Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1, The Butcher Shoppe Sessions now and get that bluegrass feeling for yourself.

Sturgill Simpson, Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1 Tracklist

Sturgill Simpson, Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 Album Review

Sturgill Simpson, Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 Album Review

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