I thought Sturgill Simpson's band was smoking, especially the guitar player from Estonia (of all places!) but his songwriting is nowhere near on-par with Isbell's. It's easy to get an NC crowd hyped-up playing bluegrass tunes and up-tempo country scorchers--I loved it too--but Isbell's songs run the gamut from Cowboy Junkies-tempo'd ballads about cancer and incest to straight-ahead rock-and-roll about nearly dying in a Super 8 motel from drug abuse and alcoholism. Isbell does favor the slow 6/8 groove but he and his band do it well. I'm a new fan of Sturgill Simpson's but to essentially say that he blew Isbell and his band off the stage is just ridiculous.
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Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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