Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

Today's country music is already plenty meta – how many songs about playing country radio can country radio play? – but with his new LP, Kentucky's Sturgill Simpson is taking it metamodern. So, uh, what does that mean, exactly? Picture what Waylon would have sounded like if he had taken Willie's drugs: This is a record that is equal parts haunted, tender and trippy. Where closer "It Ain't All Flowers" ends with two minutes of reversed tape, the Seventies Elvis-esque opener "Turtles All the Way Down" foregrounds a conversation with God in which the big man tells him, "My son, it's all been done/Go and try and have some fun." Not bad advice, that.

From The Archives Issue 1211: June 19, 2014