Sturgill Simpson is headed to London as part of a European tour that also includes main stage slots at major summer festivals like Latitude and Roskilde.
The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter plays Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 15 July 2016 in support of his latest album, ‘A Sailor’s Guide To Earth’.
Simpson’s third full-length LP and follow-up to 2014’s critically acclaimed ‘Metamodern Sounds In Country Music’ was written as a letter to his first child, born in the summer of 2014.
“I really questioned whether I wanted to spend however many more years on this bus, not being there and seeing all that was happening,” Simpson says of the months he was on tour following his son’s birth.
“That’s where this record came from, just processing all that guilt and homesickness. I had to figure out a way to put that into music, so I decided to write the whole record from the perspective of a sailor going to sea and not knowing if he’s ever coming home.”
Although Simpson had lived out of a bag for most of his adult life, it didn’t bother him until his child was born.
“I had to go out on the road for a year and a half, so I watched him grow up in photographs. I wrote the lyrics on the road and figured I’d put them to music when we were in the studio. Everything came together on the fly.”Once the tour ended, Simpson booked time at Nashville’s Butcher Shoppe studio, intending to record demos with veteran Johnny Cash engineer David Ferguson.
“The whole point was to go in and just woodshed some songs to get some demos down to see where I was.”
Within a few days, he’d completed the album which, musically, is his most diverse to date.
“I wanted it to be an exploration of all the different types of music that I love – a musical journey,” Simpson explains. “I listen to a lot of Marvin Gaye, a lot of Bill Withers. I like the way George Harrison sings and tried to incorporate that. Some people will say I’m trying to run from country, but I’m never going to make anything other than a country record. As soon as I open my mouth, it’s going to be a country song.”
And when he does open his mouth, it’s for one listener in particular.
“I also wanted it to be something that when my son is older and maybe I’m gone, he can listen to it and get a sense of who I was. I just wanted to talk as directly to him as possible.”
As a result, Simpson chose to self-produce the album that, lyrically, finds him torn between the road and his family.
“I know what music has done for me in my life in terms of offering some kind of direction and comfort,” he says. “I might be out there in the middle of tour wondering how I’m going to keep doing this when I’m missing everything at home. But it’s also making a lot of people happy that I’ve never met before. So it’s worth it. I think my wife understands that. Hopefully my son will too. When he’s old enough, maybe he can come with me.”