For all of the acclaim – and rightfully so – that Simpson’s album Metamodern Sounds In Country Music has received this year, so much attention has been paid to drug references and science fiction metaphysics, it’s easy to forget that at the heart of Simpsons songs, both Metamodern and 2013’s High Top Mountain, lies the same themes that have informed country music since its inception. Loss. Regret, bad love and even worse hangovers; it’s all there mixed in with the brighter sides of life.
Last week, Simpson and his stellar band turned the Birchmere into a dusty, boozy honky-tonk with a heart. Whether a knowing wink to the current climate around Country music, or simply something he just felt like knocking out, a near faithful cover of the Willie Nelson classic “Sad Songs and Waltzes” early on in the set made it clear that Simpson thinks, and thinks A LOT, about not just what his music means, but the tradition from whence it sprang.