Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Sturgill Entering New Country ; American Roots Star Ready to Accept His Latest Direction - the Inner Elvis

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Sturgill Entering New Country ; American Roots Star Ready to Accept His Latest Direction - the Inner Elvis

Article excerpt

THREE albums into his career and country music star Sturgill Simpson, it seems, is entering his Elvis phase. The Nashvillebased songwriter's latest release, A Sailor's Guide To Earth, finds him at his most joyously rabble-rousing, embracing influences such as Memphis soul, New Orleans funk and, most surprisingly, the King himself.

As such, the album has also produced some of Sturgill Simpson's most barnstorming and physically demanding live performances - and at the age of 38, doesn't he know it.

"My body hates me more than ever the morning after a show," he cackles.

"This album just brings a different energy; it's the most physical I've ever been on stage. Is this my Elvis phase? Absolutely - only without the addiction to drugs and peanut butter sandwiches."

An Elvis phase may raise a few eyebrows amongst his fervent fanbase, but Sturgill Simpson, as we'll soon come to learn, is all about dissolving preconceptions these days.

A self-described "late bloomer", Simpson had already endured years of anonymity and an ignored debut album (2013's High Top Mountain) before his second release, 2014's stunning Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, brought him to mainstream attention. Such was the album's impact that American music journalists swiftly proclaimed him 'the saviour of country music' - a title he's been eager to dismantle ever since.

Indeed, if Sturgill Simpson seems in cheery, ebullient mood during our CityLife phone interview, it might well have something to do with his current location, in Sweden, in the middle of a marathon European tour.

Outside of his home nation, away from the scrutiny of hardcore country music enthusiasts, Simpson is relieved not to be carrying the burden of being country music's grand saviour.

"Back in the States, there's a lot of focus on it," he says of the country music scene's intense scrutiny.

"There's a lot of talk about where artists fit in within the whole country scene. But when I come to places like Europe, no one cares about where you fit in; it's more open-minded. …

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