Sturgill Simpson rang in Saturday Night Live‘s first episode of 2017 with high-energy, stage-shaking performances of “Keep It Between the Lines” and “Call to Arms,” two tracks off the country singer’s Album of the Year Grammy-nominated LP A Sailor’s Guide to Earth.
Simpson, making his SNL debut on the heels of his surprise Grammy nomination, first delivered a scorching take on his brassy soul track “Keep It Between the Lines,” backed by a powerful seven-member horn section.
For the latter performance, Sailor’s Guide‘s explosive closer “Call to Arms,” Simpson and his expert backing band transformed Studio 8H into a crazed rave-up, with the singer dancing around the stage as the music intensified around him. Although just five minutes long, Simpson gave each member of his band a solo to bask in the SNL spotlight.
Simpson had planned on taking some time off following the conclusion of the tour in support of Sailor’s Guide – one of Rolling Stone‘s 50 Best Albums of 2016 – but his unlikely Grammy nominations likely ended any chance of a vacation.
“I was so certain that when the tour wrapped up, we were done,” Simpson said in December. “But it might be a good idea to go play some shows again, I don’t know, given how many millions of people are saying, ‘Who the fuck is Sturgill Simpson?’ as of this morning.”