The Nashville, Tenn. native formerly led the group Sunday Valley, and now, on "High Top Mountain," Simpson throws himself fully into the dim lights, thick smoke and, yes, loud loud music. Songs like "Railroad of Sin" and "You Can Have the Crown" (aka "King of You Know What Mountain") practically beg to be turned up. The guitars twang with muscle, the rhythm section smokes like a downbound train and Simpson's delivery brims with cool, confident, ragged glory.
But "High Top Mountain" isn't all bar-burning honky tonk. Ballads like "Water in a Well" and closer "I'd Have to Be Crazy" -- written by Willie Nelson and featuring some beautiful piano from Hargus "Pig" Robbins and organ by Bobby Emmett to complement Simpson's passionate phrasing -- explore every corner of heartache; they tell the stories of life lived hard and of love lost even harder. This is classic country, not because it sounds vintage, but because the singing, playing and songs are simply timeless.
"High Top Mountain" will be released on June 11, 2013.