On 2nd April 2021 Volume 2 of the Sturgill Simpson Cuttin’ Grass albums will get a physical release. Both Volume 1 and 2 had been surprise releases in the back end of 2020, and were originally released digitally. As with Volume 1, Volume 2 contains bluegrass reversions of previously released songs and a couple of unreleased ones.
The reworkings of these songs is a tribute to both Sturgill’s writing and the musicians he worked with on this album. The lyrics sometimes have an interesting juxtaposition with the instruments being played. For instance Sea Stories – with its great picking and old-school bluegrass sound – contains the lyric “play a little GoldenEye on that old 64”. There is something fitting yet slightly comical about hearing a bluegrass tune talking about playing a Nintendo 64 game.
The musicians playing along with Sturgill on this album – Mike Bub, upright bass; Stuart Duncan, fiddle, background vocals; Mark Howard, background vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar; Sierra Hull, mandolin, background vocals; Miles Miller, percussion, background vocals; Tim O’Brien, background vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar; and Scott Vestal, banjo, background vocals – produce an awesome sound, and this is one of those albums that works beautifully on a sunny day.
Whether you are already a Sturgill Simpson fan, or this album is an introduction to him, it’s worth investing some time listening to it. The versions on this album are pretty different to those released previously. The fact that these are reworkings doesn’t detract from either the original or the new version – it’s interesting to see what an artist can do with their songs when they have unexpected time on their hands.
There are hints of Gram Parsons in Tennessee, Waylon Jennings in You Can Have The Crown (not sure if this is on purpose, since the lyrics mention watching The Dukes of Hazzard), Dierks Bentley’s version of Pride (In The Name Of Love), and – unsurprisingly with Hobo Canteen, given he co-wrote it – Merle Haggard about these recordings. This actually makes you listen more closely, trying to figure out what that particular riff or bass line reminds you of, and is definitely a positive thing.
If you are a fan of bluegrass music, country music or just want to listen to some great musicians having fun, check out this album. What ‘s the worst that could happen?
Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass Volume 2: The Cowboy Arms Sessions is physically released on High Top Mountain Records via Thirty Tigers on 2nd April 2021.