STURGILL SIMPSON || The Ballad of Dood & Juanita
You could call this a bluegrass opera but its libretto would be brief: “Dood & Juanita” is a love story, one filled with drama, melodrama, violence, death and redemption, and it all comes and goes in a galloping pace: 10 songs in under 28 minutes.
Despite its brevity, Sturgill Simpson's seventh studio album (and third in 10 months) boldly continues a musical narrative he started with “Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1,” which announced his return to the music he was raised on in his home state, Kentucky: taproot bluegrass. He followed that with an equally satisfying sequel, “Cuttin' Grass, Vol. 2,” proving its predecessor was no novel fling.
Here, the music itself plays second fiddle to the robust, fast-paced narrative, which follows a protagonist through various twists of plot and affairs of the heart. It's all earnest and well-crafted but not honed, carved or shined to perfection. In all manners – musically, lyrically, vocally – it feels live and true and organic and adds more integrity to the career of an elite artist who continues to pursue his own unique and adventurous muse strictly on his own terms.