Sturgill Simpson Shares Surprise New Album ‘Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2’ & Performs On ‘Kimmel’

By Scott Bernstein Dec 11, 2020 6:49 am PST

Sturgill Simpson surprise released Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2 – The Cowboy Arms Sessions, his second bluegrass album of 2020, digitally on High Top Mountain Records via Thirty Tigers/The Orchard with a vinyl edition to follow on April 2, 2021. The 12-track LP comes after Sturgill performed “All The Pretty Colors” on Thursday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live joined by the same all-star group of musicians who back him on both installments of Cuttin’ Grass.

Simpson dubbed his backing band “The Hillbilly Avengers.” The group consists of fiddler Stuart Duncan, drummer Miles Miller, guitarist Tim O’Brien, mandolinist Sierra Hull, bassist Mike Bub and banjo players Scott Vestal and Mark Howard. Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2 was recorded at the legendary Cowboy Jack Clement’s Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa with producer David Ferguson. Ora Simpson, Sturgill’s late grandfather who introduced him to bluegrass, is credited as executive producer.

Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2 features bluegrass renditions of six songs from Sturgill’s 2016 LP, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth, along with three songs from 2013’s High Top Mountain. The new album also includes “Hobo Cartoon,” a new song Simpson co-wrote with the late Merle Haggard. “We got to know each other in the last two years of his life,” explained Sturgill. “He would call a lot, we’d talk on the phone. When he got sick, he was still writing songs, even in his hospital bed. This just popped up one day in the in box—he sent me these lyrics in a text and he said ‘From one railroad man to another.’”

Sturgill decided to focus on the Cuttin’ Grass albums following his recovery from the coronavirus earlier this year. In early June, Simpson and “The Hillbilly Avengers” performed a bluegrass concert at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium and issued Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 – The Butcher Shoppe Sessions in October.

“It’s hard to deny that this is a much more personal record,” said Simpson of the differences between the two installments of Cuttin’ Grass. “I was thinking about my kids, my grandfather, my wife.”

Don’t be surprised if more volumes follows. “Cuttin’ Grass will be my retirement plan,” Sturgill added. “I’ve got one more album to do in terms of the five-album narrative I’ve always been talking about, and after that. I’ll just keep cuttin’ grass—there’ll probably be 17 of these things when it’s all said and done. But I’ve also learned that I don’t want to put any boundaries on myself ever again. Even with Sailor’s Guide or Sound & Fury, I went in saying ‘This is what I want to do,’ and then you get in there and you’re sort of riding that lightning. You don’t ever want to put any limitations on your own expression or creativity.”

Watch Sturgill Simpson & The Hillbilly Avengers’ Kimmel performance and stream Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2 – The Cowboy Arms Sessions below:

Cuttin’ Grass Vol 2 – The Cowboy Arms Sessions Tracklist

  1. Call to Arms
  2. Brace for Impact (Live a Little)
  3. Oh Sarah
  4. Sea Stories
  5. Hero
  6. Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)
  7. Jesus Boogie
  8. Keep It Between the Lines
  9. You Can Have the Crown
  10. Tennessee
  11. Some Days
  12. Hobo Cartoon
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