Sturgill Simpson - High Top Mountain
All of the excellent songs are beautifully written by Sturgill Simpson except the last couple of tracks on this twelve song album that are written by Ray Cline/Ralph Stanley and Steven Fromholz respectively, giving some idea, to those that have not heard of him before, of his roots and direction. His own songs are qualatively on a par with these two greats and are very much tales of life that include stories of lost love, tales about a struggling musician and even stories of a hard working coal mining community. The album was produced by Dave Cobb and recorded at a couple of locations in Nashville, but don't think, despite this being classy country music, that it is going to be just another Nashville country album. Whereas much of that is sanitized this album has a genuine hard edge that is obvious to those that really listen. As music in the background (not sure why anyone wants that, but some do!) it would sound like a pleasant, if high quality, country album, but when you listen to the album properly, it becomes obvious that this is a quite sparse recording with none of the sand papered smoothness of so much other country music. The band plays with great skill and where necessary plenty of restraint and consists of Sturgill on lead vocals, acoustic guitar and Telecaster, Hargus "Pig" Robbins on piano, Chris Powell, drums, Robby Turner, steel guitar throughout and bass on tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, Brian "Freedom Eagle Bear" Allen, bass on tracks 4, 6, 9, 11, 12, Bobby "Diamond Bob" Emmett on organ and mellotron with Leroy Powell, steel guitar on tracks 6 and 9 plus backing vocals on track 6 and finally Dave Cobb, 12 string electric guitar on track 7.