Fans of Sturgill Simpson awoke to a pleasant surprise Friday morning with the release of Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 2 (Cowboy Arms Sessions). While this second volume largely focuses on previously-released music reworked in a bluegrass style, it also features a new composition Simpson wrote with the late Merle Haggard.
To celebrate the album’s release, Simpson also appeared as the musical guest on Thursday night’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! where he performed “All The Pretty Colors” from Nashville’s Station Inn.
The 12-song album revisits some of Simpson’s celebrated hits from throughout the years, including “You Can Have The Crown” and “Call to Arms”. The songs featured on the new collection largely focus on 2016’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, though there are also songs from his 2013 debut release High Top Mountain as well as tracks from his Sunday Valley days. Of note, the album contains an alternate take on “You Can Have The Crown”, which Simpson had previously retired from performing live.
“On Volume 2, we recorded everything I was too afraid to do on Volume 1… It’s hard to deny that this is a much more personal record. I was thinking about my kids, my grandfather, my wife,” Sturgill said of the album.
Recorded at Cowboy Jack Clement‘s Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa in Nashville, Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 2 contains the debut of “Tennessee” and “Hobo Cartoon”, the latter of which Simpson wrote with Haggard. The late country icon supposedly sent Simpson the track shortly before his death in 2016, which the then-emerging artist finished years later. “Merle loved bluegrass, so it felt like a proper homage, really exposed and stripped down to the root of something,” Simpson said.
In order to promote the album—which, in truth, could get by on word-of-mouth buzz—Simpson appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! with an all-star band he has dubbed “The Hillbilly Avengers” to perform “All The Pretty Colors”. Not found on Simpson’s solo discography, the song stretches back to his days with Sunday Valley, the band he spearheaded from 2004 until going solo in 2012. While the track may be new to some people who were unaware of his past affiliations, the dry, honest wit in the songwriting contains all the hallmarks of a classic Simpson original.
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Watch Sturgill Simpson perform “All The Pretty Colors” on Kimmel and stream Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 2 – (Cowboy Arms Sessions) below.
Sturgill Simpson – “All The Pretty Colors”
[Video: Jimmy Kimmel Live]
Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 2 (Cowboy Arms Sessions)