While his music surely takes root from classic country, there is something new and hip about Sturgill Simpson. Maybe it's his instrumentation, sometimes more progressive or genre-bending than classic country, like the banjo solo in the middle of "Listening to the Rain," in this session. Or, perhaps it's his skepticism toward the mainstream music industry that sets him apart, consciously passing over a major label contract to do his own thing and make the music he loves.
Or maybe it's because he looks like he would fit in perfectly in a Wes Anderson movie.
A lot of Simpson's music certainly deserves the references to traditional country, and his music seems made more for a honky-tonk than commercial radio. Simpson was born and raised in an Appalachian coal town, and has said that his debut album, "High Top Mountain," is supposed to "capture the music [his] grandfathers played."
Traditional might not be the right word for Sturgill Simpson and his music. Perhaps authentic is closer, but with a twist.
All photos by Caroline Philippone