Daily Distraction: Listen in as Sturgill Simpson continues his roll

Give 'Juanita' a spin while we continue to hold out hope for a rescheduled Columbus date sometime either this year or next

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Sturgill Simpson in a 2016 Atlantic Records promo photo.

The last concert I was scheduled to review prior to the pandemic was a March 2020 visit from Sturgill Simpson (with the also excellent Tyler Childers in tow), a gig that was eventually canceled amid the early spread of the coronavirus. At the time, Simpson was touring behind his 2019 full-length, Sound & Fury, a sometimes generic rock album that felt, to me, like a marked step backwards following a pair of unimpeachable albums: A Sailor's Guide to Earth, from 2016, and 2014 LP Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.

While Simpson might have been loath to cancel any concerts, the forced slowdown has bled into his music in the best ways imaginable, with the Kentucky-born singer and songwriter abandoning the stampeding riffage of Sound & Fury for a series of stripped-down bluegrass efforts, including a pair of albums reworking his past songs (Cuttin' Grass, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) and a brilliant new concept album, The Ballad of Dood and Juanita, released just last month.

While The Ballad of Dood is filled with standout tracks, including one that'll have you hugging your canine companion just a little a bit tighter, the best might be the starry-eyed ballad "Juanita," on which the narrator staves off death with little more than the memory of his missing love. And as good as it sounds on album, it might be even better live, as evidenced in the video below. Give it a listen while we continue to hold out hope for a rescheduled Columbus date sometime either this year or next.