Christmas came early this year… and Santa Stu is drivin’ the sleigh.
Never one to shy away from a curveball, Sturgill Simpson has managed to keep his fans on the edge of their seats with four completely unique projects in the past two years.
A sleazy, steamy psychedelic rock record, two bluegrass albums, and today, The Ballad Of Dood & Juanita, a Civil War-era concept album that tells the story Dood, a hard-nosed Kentucky frontiersman who was the “son of a mountain miner and a Shawnee maid.”
“I just wanted to write a story—not a collection of songs that tell a story, but an actual story, front to back… a rollercoaster ride through all the styles of traditional country and bluegrass and mountain music that I love, including gospel and a cappella.”
Written and recorded in less than a week, on a hundred year old guitar, “Dood & Juanita” also features the support of his Hillbilly Avengers band from his Cuttin’ Grass albums, but to simply call this a bluegrass album would be a rather lazy oversimplification.
As Sturgill describes, it’s a blend of influences ranging from traditional Appalachian mountain music, to bluegrass and gospel, and there’s even a little Spanish flavor in “Juanita,” featuring the great Willie Nelson.
A harrowing tale of love and revenge, the story begins with the kidnapping of Dood’s wife Juanita by the scoundrel outlaw Seamus McClure, who also happens to put a bullet in Dood.
As tough as they come, Dood manages to dig out the bullet, clean the wound, and saddle up his trusty mule Shamrock to find his beloved Juanita. With his loyal hound Sam at his side, he vows to bring Juanita back home and make McClure pay for his crimes.
Of course, the journey is far from easy, but I don’t really want to spoil it.
As Sturgill puts it, “it’s a simple tale of either redemption or revenge.”
You need to listen to it in order (duh), so it doesn’t really make sense to put a few of my favorite tracks in here, but if you want a taste of the kind of musical styles you’re gonna get, here you go.
The only question now… will someone make it into a movie?