Album Feature – Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 1 (Butcher Shoppe Sessions)

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Oct 162020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Sturgill Simpson has released Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 (Butcher Shoppe Sessions) as the follow up to last year’s rock record Sound And Fury.  This album turns to bluegrass and re-works 20 of Sturgill’s original tunes into bluegrass tracks.  What really makes this album is that these are totally re-arranged to be bluegrass and not just his old songs played in this style.  It really helps that Sturgill has put together an amazing bluegrass band of some of the best players today with Stuart Duncan, Mike Bub, Sierra Hull, Scott Vestal, Tim O’Brien, Mark Howard and Miles Miller on the record.

There really isn’t a bad track on this album, and it’s the first record I have reviewed here where I recommend the whole album.  Some standouts include a few Sunday Valley tracks with “All The Pretty Colors”, “I Wonder” and “Sometimes Wine”.  I hope we get a few more of these on the potential Vol. 2.  Other high marks include a total re-working of “The Storm” from the mid-tempo track on High Top Mountain to a thunderous and fast bluegrass track that will have concert halls dancing for sure.  “Turtles” is also slightly sped up for the bluegrass style and it has a totally different feel to it vs the cosmic styling of the Metamodern track.  “Life Of Sin” goes from being a guitar forward twangy country jam to a fiddle forward country flavored bluegrass track.  Indeed, it is the new arrangements for these familiar tracks with some of the best bluegrass players you can put together that makes this much more than a greatest hits album.

Sturgill has done it again with this one and has made what could be another genre defining masterpiece.  This time he has done for bluegrass what Metamodern Sounds In Country Music did for traditional country back in 2014.  Bluegrass is in a resurgence with artists like Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle and others leading the way.  Now Sturgill joins the pack with this collection.  Time will tell if we get a Volume 2 with the rest of his songs and hopefully a bit more Sunday Valley and a bit of Sound and Fury too.  I don’t often review records like this, but this is more than a Greatest Hits album.  These are familiar songs done in a new way with some of the best pickers you can find.  I highly recommend giving this record a spin and I hope we get a bluegrass tour with Sturgill and this band.  Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 is out everywhere digitally as of October 16th, 2020 with physical releases later in December.  

Favorite Tracks : The Whole Thing

Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 1 (Butcher Shoppe Sessions) (2020)

  1. All Around You
  2. All The Pretty Colors
  3. Breakers Roar
  4. I Don’t Mind
  5. I Wonder
  6. Just Let Go
  7. Life Ain’t Fair And The World Is Mean
  8. A Little Light
  9. Life Of Sin
  10. Long White Line
  11. Living The Dream
  12. Old King Coal
  13. Railroad Of Sin
  14. Sitting Here Without You
  15. Sometimes Wine
  16. The Storm
  17. Time After All
  18. Turtles All The Way Down
  19. Voices
  20. Water Down The Well

Album Feature – David Adam Byrnes – Neon Town

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Oct 142020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Every now and then you see a random new artist and decide to check them out and it blows you away with how good they are.  This was my experience with David Adam Byrnes new record Neon Town.  I was not familiar with him at all until it dropped this past Friday, but now I am a fan.  A little bit of research revealed that this is the follow up to his 2011 album Premium Country, but you really should treat this as a re-introduction.  A move from Nashville to Texas provided some new inspiration and artists like Cody Johnson showed him what Texas country could be.  That’s where the album Neon Town comes in and it is pure country music gold.  You might not find a better Texas country album this year.

The album kicks off with “Neon Town” and it’s a straight banger.  It’s a classic honky tonk song that gets you in the mood to dance.  This is a track that wouldn’t be out of place on a George Strait album.  Another favorite is “Old School”.  I love the groove this track cuts.  It’s a funky track about how chivalry is still alive even if it is old school.”Tequila, Salt and Time” is a typical feel good country music island jam, but similar to “Old School”, this song has a groove that makes you just want to dance and that danceable aspect is something that makes this record stand out among 2020’s country music releases.

“Beer Bucket List” kicks things off with a great fiddle riff.  This is another great banger of a track about the escapism that beer can provide from the typical 9 to 5 lifestyle.  “In My Arms” is a great ballad that I feel like would have gone to number one on country radio in the mid to late 90’s.  It has that smooth kind of melody and simple guitar and fiddle harmony that made those kinds of songs popular.  Regardless of the decade, it’s still a great tune.  The album closes out with a killer cover of classic country tune “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Loud Music”.  It’s a very stripped back cover and closes the album out on a familiar note.

David Adam Byrnes has released one hell of a record full of great danceable country songs which is something we haven’t had much of in 2020.  There are tracks for honky tonks that are bangers and there are tracks that make you want to slow dance the night away.  It’s a good album.  I highly recommend checking this one out and I hope to be able to see David Adam Byrnes live sometime in the future.  Neon Town is available everywhere as of October 9th, 2020. 

Favorite Tracks : Neon Town, Old School, Tequila, Salt and Time, Beer Bucket List, In My Arms 

David Adam Byrnes

David Adam Byrnes – Neon Town (2020)

  1. Neon Town
  2. I Can Give You One
  3. She Only Wanted Flowers
  4. Old School
  5. Signs
  6. Tequila Salt and Time
  7. Beer Bucket List
  8. In My Arms
  9. I Ain’t Seen It Yet
  10. Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Loud Music

Album Feature – Brent Cobb – Keep ‘Em On They Toes

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Oct 022020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Brent Cobb has released the follow up to his 2018 record Providence Canyon.  While that album revealed a more rocking side of Cobb’s music, Keep ‘Em On They Toes goes back to the more mellow rootsy vibe of 2016’s Shine On Rainy Day.  With four albums under his belt, Cobb is proving himself to be one of the premier songwriters in country and Americana music.  Let’s check out some of the tracks in this new record.

The album kicks off with the inspirational and quotable track “Keep ‘Em On They Toes”.  It’s a feel good anthem about walking to the beat of your own drummer and not letting other people get to you.  It’s a great message that a lot of people need to hear right now.  “Good Times and Good Lovin’” is another great track.  I love the interplay between the fiddle and the slow piano on this track.  It’s a smooth ballad that I’m sure will be a lot of folks’ favorite song.  

“This Side Of The River” is a great song about loving what you have and celebrating the simple life.  It’s got a smooth vibe that flows well with the rest of the album.  “Don’t Sweep Your Dust Under My Rug” is a song about those people that are quick to judge other people they don’t understand.  It’s basically saying “I live the way I do, I don’t mess with you, don’t mess with me.”  It’s a simple message that a lot of people can relate to these days.  “Soapbox” feels like the kind of song the world needs to hear about stepping off your soapbox and trying to get a long.  It’s another great track for this record and I love Nikki Lane’s feature here.

Brent Cobb has released a great record that speaks to a lot of the current conditions of the world without being tied to any particular point in time.  While a song like “The World Is Ending” feels like a 2020 song, it doesn’t feel stuck in 2020.  Good songs should be timeless and this record has that.  Brent Cobb has been playing some of these songs live over the past year or so, but I can’t wait till I’m able to hear some of the newer stuff in a live setting with a full band.  You can find out more of what Brent Cobb is up to on his website.  Keep ‘Em On They Toes is out everywhere as of October 2nd, 2020.

Favorite Tracks : Keep ‘Em on They Toes, Good Times and Good Lovin’, This Side Of The River, Dust Under My Rug, Soap Box

Brent Cobb – Keep ‘Em On They Toes (2020)

  1. Keep ‘Em On They Toes
  2. Shut Up And Sing
  3. Good Times and Good Lovin’
  4. Sometimes I’m A Clown
  5. This Side Of The River
  6. Dust Under My Rug
  7. Soapbox (feat. Nikki Lane)
  8. When You Go
  9. The World Is Ending
  10. Little Stuff