Sturgill Simpson - Cuttun' Grass Vol 1 The Butcher Shoppe Sessions
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Cuttun' Grass Vol 1 The Butcher Shoppe Sessions (High Top Mountain/Thirty Tigers, 2020)

Sturgill Simpson

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Anybody that believes you can have too much of a good thing, obviously hasn't listened to Sturgill Simpson's "Cuttin' Grass" collections, volumes one and two. Volume one contains a plentiful 20 songs, and it's a hoot and a holler – start to finish.

Simpson's point of view is complicated. He sounds just as natural singing about God, as he does on "All Around You," as he does while traveling down that highway to hell with "Railroad of Sin." These recordings offer a bluegrass reimagining of his original country tracks, and everything he's written works just as well with this project's old school instrumentation. There's a lot to digest with this effort, but one song stands out above the rest. "Old King Coal," a gut level honest assessment of America's coal country and culture, is especially sad when put to this new arrangement.

The playing is excellent throughout, and Simpson sings all these songs with plenty of emotion. There's just something special about Simpson's newfound combination of relevant lyrics and old timey instrumentation that makes this collection so great. If you didn't already know Simpson's work, you might easily assume these arrangements are the original ones. Heck, maybe that is true for some of 'em.

Simpson may have a love/hate relationship with the country music business, but he expresses nothing, but uninhibited love for performing bluegrass music on these inspired recordings.

CDs by Sturgill Simpson

Cuttun' Grass Vol 1 The Butcher Shoppe Sessions, 2020 A Soldier's Guide to Earth, 2016 Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, 2014 High Top Mountain, 2013

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