Nobody panic, but Sturgill Simpson is BACK.
It was recently announced that Thomas Wesley Pentz, AKA Diplo, will be releasing the second installment of his so-called “country” project, Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley.
Back in 2020, he released Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley Chapter 1: Snake Oil, which featured collaborations with Morgan Wallen, Ben Burgess, Thomas Rhett, Orville Peck, Zac Brown and many others.
The follow-up will be titled Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley: Chapter 2 – Swamp Savant, and it is set to drop at the end of this month on April 28th.
In an Instagram post, he said:
“To prepare for this new Thomas Wesley project, I went back to my fathers house in Florida and I spent six months learning guitar, getting in touch with nature, working his boat when the shrimp were running on full moons at the trailer park… then I went to Nashville and had to take out every manager and A&R out to dinner until my credit card was maxed.
I called every favor from my rapper friends (there wasn’t a lot that answered my calls) went to Kentucky and Texas and tracked down all the guys there and asked everyone to give me a chance and to be on my new project.
I looked back at my career and the things I learned as a songwriter… then I researched every way I was good at breaking the rules in my career and tried some new tricks… spent two years going to Stagecoach undercover as an EDM DJ to figure out what people were into … I tried on a lot of cowboy hats.
I rode a lot of motorcycles and horses basically reflected on my whole life and career and connection with this music… there was a lot… it all started in the swamps I was raised in…
This is the greatest single piece of work I’ve ever done, I can promise you that. Thomas Wesley: Chapter 2 – Swamp Savant… out April 28.”
Of course, he also recently teamed up with Koe Wetzel and Kodak Black on a track called “Wasted,” and is the resident after-party DJ at Stagecoach, so Diplo is no stranger to the country(ish) music scene.
However, in his latest teaser we have great and powerful Sturgill Simpson making a brief appearance at the end. And all of the sudden, I find that Diplo has my undivided attention.
Due out on April 14th, he previewed a new song titled “Use Me,” featuring Dove Cameron and someone named Johnny Blue Skies, who, if the vocal at the end of the clip is any indication, is Sturgill Simpson.
Take a listen for yourself.
Sounds like Stu, doesn’t it?
It is… here’s your clue.
If you happen to have a copy of Sturgill Simpson’s Grammy-winning A Sailor’s Guide To Earth album, you can take a look at one of the inserts (basically a poster) which includes this little phrase:
“Beware the dread pirate Johnny Blue Skies”
But even more than that, there’s a recent filing from December of 2022 with the United States Patent & Trademark Office for “Johnny Blue Skies, LLC,” which also includes the language:
“The name(s), portrait(s), and/or signature(s) shown in the mark identifies John Sturgill Simpson, whose consent(s) to register is made of record.”
So yeah… take it to the bank people… Sturgill Simpson is BACK.
It may be some form of Disco Cowboy Stu, but it’s Stu nonetheless.
Since the release of his 2021 studio album, The Ballad Of Dood & Juanita, and subsequent vocal cord surgery, we haven’t heard much from Sturgill Simpson lately.
Obviously, he needed to spend some time recovering, but appears to be focusing more on his producer role as of late. He released a song on the John Anderson tribute album (not sure when it was actually recorded), lent some vocal on an Angel Olsen tune, and produced records for Brit Taylor as well as his own drummer, Miles Miller.
So, aside from producing albums, it seems like we might be getting our first look at the next chapter for Sturgill Simpson soon.
Sturgill Simpson Confirms “Dood & Juanita” Is His Last Solo Album
After the release of his fantastic concept record, The Ballad Of Dood & Juanita, back in 2021, the one question in the back of everybody’s mind was… is this his last album?
Sturgill has said in the past that he planned on making five records and then calling it a career… but plenty of people make promises at the beginning of their career that they don’t necessarily keep.
Would he really call it quits at the top of his game? Even he wasn’t so sure…
However, in another prior interview, Sturgill said he was sticking to it.
“I don’t want to say I’ll never make another record, but this five-album narrative was really clear when I moved to Nashville. My wife really helped me carve that out, in terms of how to go about the beginning, middle and end for each chapter. But then after that, I am not sure.
I love the studio. I like sleeping in my bed. I like seeing other people succeed. And I really love helping other people succeed—people like Tyler or Margo or Lucette or anybody else who would be willing to work with me.
I can’t think of any other greater way to use the knowledge or experience—or whatever you want to call it—that I’ve gained from the last seven or eight years, then by helping other people who I’m already impressed with make more music that will improve the musical landscape, as opposed to just 20 more Sturgill records.”
At the time of this conversation, Sturgill had pretty much finished his new album, but the future of Stu in the country music world appeared to be in more of a producer capacity.
And then in a more recent interview with Rolling Stone, Sturgill doubled down:
“This is the last Sturgill record. I always said there would be five, and I wondered if I’d go back on that. But it really has cemented every step of the way how much I don’t want to carry all that weight.
Going forward, I’d like to form a proper band with some people who I really love and respect musically and be a part of something truly democratic in terms of creativity.
Not having to stand up there behind my name would allow me to be even more vulnerable, in a way.”
At the end of the day, whether it’s solo artist Stu, band member Stu, producer Stu, actor Stu and even disco cowboy Stu making songs with Diplo, I’m going to be paying attention.