Coun­try singer Sturgill Simp­son wins in­die ac­claim

The China Post - - ARTS & LEISURE -

Sturgill Simp­son, the coun­try singer who brings philo­soph­i­cal ru­mi­na­tion to his twang, has proved his cross­over ap­peal with wins at the in­de­pen­dent mu­sic in­dus­try’s awards.

Simp­son was named Break­through Artist of the Year and also won for Her­itage Al­bum of the Year on Thurs­day night in New York at the Lib­era Awards, the an­nual prizes of the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Mu­sic.

While the awards are open to any artist who is not on a ma­jor la­bel, “in­die” has tra­di­tion­ally been as­so­ci­ated with guitar-driven rock with­out the gloss of com­mer­cial pop.

Amid a grow­ing main­stream au­di­ence in the United States for coun­try mu­sic, Simp­son has been play­ing ma­jor mu­sic fes­ti­vals in­clud­ing Coachella and Bon­na­roo.

While his genre of­ten fo­cuses on base in­stincts, Simp­son has de­scribed his latest al­bum, “Me­ta­mod­ern Sounds in Coun­try Mu­sic,” as a philo­soph­i­cal jour­ney inspired in part by the writ­ings of French Je­suit Pierre Teil­hard de Chardin.

Teil­hard wrote of the con­cept of con­scious­ness, a theme which the Simp­son ex­plores on the song “Just Let Go,” which is rooted in the Ken­tucky-born singer-gui­tarist’s em­brace of Bud­dhism.

The Lib­era Award for Al­bum of the Year went to “Lost in the Dream” by The War on Drugs, the Philadelphia band whose some- times melan­choly psy­che­delic rock brings in coun­try in­flu­ences.

The War on Drugs won near uni­ver­sal ac­claim for the al­bum, which front­man Adam Gran­duciel spent more than a year tin­ker­ing with as he lived alone fol­low­ing a break-up.

Iron­i­cally, The War on Drugs won the Lib­era Award days af­ter sign­ing a deal with one of the ma­jor la­bels, At­lantic Records.

The War on Drugs had re­leased three al­bums on the in­flu­en­tial In­di­ana-based in­die la­bel Se­cretly Cana­dian.

The al­bum beat out a crowd that in­cluded the block­buster “1989” by Tay­lor Swift, who is one of the world’s top stars but re­mains tech­ni­cally an in­de­pen­dent artist as she re­mains signed to coun­try la­bel Big Ma­chine.

The Lib­era Awards started in 2012 to rec­og­nize the in­de­pen­dent mu­sic in­dus­try, which has boomed in re­cent years thanks in part to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of online mu­sic plat­forms.

AP

Coun­try singer Sturgil Simp­son per­forms at The Gover­nors Ball Mu­sic Fes­ti­val at Ran­dall’s Is­land Park, New York on June 7.

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