High Top Mountain, a psychedelic-addled outlaw on 2014’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music and a Nirvana-loving country soul singer on 2016’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. He’s often labeled a country artist for people who don’t like country music, or anointed the savior of country music because of his wide-ranging stylistic interests. But Simpson’s countrypolitan style stretches back to Gram Parson and The Flying Burrito Brothers and, before that, Ray Charles’ experiments in collapsing the boundaries between country and soul music.
Sturgill Simpson is kind of the David Bowie of country music, minus Bowie’s fashion sense. Over the course of three albums released since 2013, Simpson has been a honky-tonk revivalist in the image of Merle Haggard on 2013’s