Album Review – Luke Bell’s Self-Titled Album is a Traditional Gem

Luke Bell Self Titled Album

Once upon a time country music was never questioned to be country music. It was authentically traditional through and through. Every song had some combination of a steel guitar, fiddles, harmonica and piano. Wouldn’t it be nice to take a time machine back to the golden days of country music? Well you can. Meet Luke Bell. Born in Lexington, Kentucky and raised in Cody, Wyoming, this country troubadour keeps it traditional with his music. He landed on a lot of people’s radars a few years ago when he released the album Don’t Mind If I Do. This led to him inking a deal with William Morris Endeavor and opening for the likes of Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr. and Dwight Yoakam. Now Bell is back with a new self-titled album, in which he described in an interview with Saving Country Music (recommended read) as “very much in the grounds of the traditional country songwriting format.” Well after listening to this album many times over I can confidently say that you probably won’t find a more excellent, traditional country sound this year.

Channeling his inner Hank, Bell sings of heartbreak on “Sometimes.” And when I say channel his inner Hank, everything about this song and really album take you back to country music in its purest form. There are steel guitars and fiddles throughout. Traditional country fans will instantly be in nirvana. “All Blue” is about a rambling man who’s always on the run and leaving behind his lovers as he goes. He’s all blue all the time, but knows he has to keep going and can never stay. There’s lots of harmonica throughout this one. It’s the perfect traveling song. The easy to sing along with “Where Ya Been” follows. Steel guitar and fiddle drive this easy-going, drinking song that you’ll find yourself getting stuck in your head real quick. There aren’t any frills about this song, but Luke Bell and real country music doesn’t need frills to be great.

The two stepping “Hold Me” will have you tapping your feet along with the rhythm. It’s about a heartbroken man dancing with another woman on the dance floor as he sees the woman who left him and he still loves holding the arms of another man. Part of him hopes it makes her jealous and another knows he needs someone to hold at the moment. For those who missed good old country songs you can dance to, this is your song. Next is the waltzing “Loretta,” in which a man sees his woman slowly drifting away from him. They shared a lot of great times and she used to look at him with love in her eyes. But now she’s off chasing fame while he’s left heartbroken and alone. The instrumentation throughout this entire album is excellent, but it just really stands out to me on this song. The fiddles, steel guitar and piano come together perfectly. This is how country music is meant to be heard.

Bell shows off his yodeling skills on “Workin’ Man’s Dream.” Yes, you read that right he can yodel and he’s pretty damn good at it too. You don’t hear much yodeling in country today despite it being very much a part of the history and soul of the genre as the likes of Hank, Bob Willis, Roy Rogers, Ernest Tubb and Bill Monroe yodeled in many of their songs. It’s a lost art that Bell revives with this song and it’s refreshing to hear. “Glory and The Grace” reminds of you the days when it was called country & western because there’s very much an influence from the latter in this song. As you listen to this song, it puts you in mind of a dusty old saloon with a bunch of cowboys sitting around in the old western days.

One of the standouts to me on this album is “Bullfighter.” In this song Bell sings about being the greatest bullfighter to live and how his fight will never die, even in old age. One of the reasons I enjoy this song so much is that when I hear Bell sing I hear a lot of the late, great Merle Haggard. It’s the deep, rich voice that sounds like Bell has been doing this for multiple decades. I don’t throw this comparison around lightly either. Bell is the real deal and this song is proof. Bell keeps the western influence going on “Ragtime Troubles.” The song is about a man who enjoys drinking, smoking and playing poker. Instead of feeling bad about his choices though, he enjoys them. He isn’t letting the bad times get him down and instead lets the good times roll. It’s just a fun song where you can forget your own troubles and enjoy the great music you’re hearing.

Bell closes the album out with “The Great Pretender.” This slow waltz is about a man who regularly has women fall in love with him, but he knows they’re going to be hurting after realizing he’s the great pretender who disappears after spending a night together. By the end of the song though he comes across a woman he falls in love with and she turns the table on him, as he finds a note from her after a night of love to say that she’s the great pretender herself. You spend the entire song kind of thinking this guy is a jerk, but in the end he gets a taste of his own medicine and all is right. It’s a strong song to end the album and really leaves you wanting to hear more from Bell.

Luke Bell’s new self-titled album is a traditional gem that shines from start to finish. It’s an album that couldn’t be more country if it tried. Bell is such a naturally gifted vocalist who makes it sound so easy when he sings. It can be easy to call Luke Bell a throwback, but really this is just how country music is supposed to sound. Bell is just someone who gets it. This is clear when you hear all of the steel guitar and fiddle throughout each song. It’s clear with the quality songwriting that draws from relatable and simple themes that the common man can connect with and understand through their own experiences. Bell could very well be the next big name to come from the independent country scene. He’s every bit as talented as the biggest names to come from the scene in recent years like Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton. Bell is an artist that every music fan should hear and can’t recommend this album enough.

Grade: 10/10

Album Review – Wheeler Walker Jr.’s ‘Redneck Shit’

Wheeler Walker Jr Redneck Shit

[Warning: This album contains a lot of strong, crude language. There are many sexual themes and references in every song. This review is an uncensored look at it. Children, anyone who is faint at heart or is easily offended should not read this review nor listen to this album. You’ve been warned, so you can’t complain!]

There are great albums. There are bad albums. Then there are albums where you don’t know what the hell you just heard. Wheeler Walker Jr.’s debut album would fall into the latter category. Walker seemingly has appeared out of thin air, although he’ll tell you he’s been around for years now and no major label would have the guts to record the album he wants to record. Well as luck would have it he would catch the eye of Sturgill Simpson, a fellow Kentuckian, who introduced him to Dave Cobb and the rest they say is history. Walker teamed up with Cobb under the Thirty Tigers label to make his debut album Redneck Shit. Never before in my time in running this blog have I heard such a vile and weird album. Yet at the same time I was blown away and impressed. And I had a few laughs along the way too while listening to it.

This raunchy album kicks off with its title track and basically serves as the appetizer to prepare you for the main course of the album. Walker sings about how much he enjoys the most stereotypical redneck shit from drinking Mountain Dew to having sex with his cousin. The instrumentation on this song is pretty damn catchy and country, something I can say about this whole album. Up next is “Beer, Weed, Cooches,” a song where Walker sings about what some of the things he loves most. Among them of course are beer, weed and cooches along with honkytonk music and getting his dick sucked. The steel guitar perfectly goes along with the lyrics and will undoubtedly have you tapping your feet along with it. “Family Tree” is the most disgusting and crude song you’ll hear on Redneck Shit (at least in my opinion). The song is about a woman wanting to break up with her man, but the man admits he only got close to her for one reason: to fuck everyone in her family. The lyrics to this song are absolutely absurd and disgusting, yet you can’t help but laugh. It’s so damn hilarious and yet so wrong. You have to hear this one for yourself.

Despite the ridiculous humorous nature of the songs on this album, there are actually some honest-to-god great country songs on here and one of them is definitely “Can’t Fuck You Off My Mind.” From the instrumentation to the theme, this is really not much different from the stuff you heard in the outlaw era of country music. It’s your classic heartbreak ballad, only with a lot of profanity. The premise of the song is quite simple: the man is fucking every woman in town to try to forget about his ex. If you think about it, this is a more mature approach to a breakup than a lot of mainstream country music. The album’s lead single, “Fuck You Bitch,” follows this. Some people will be offended just by reading the title, but this would be shortsighted. Once again Walker tackles heartbreak, just in a crude and very blunt manner. The story goes the woman has left the man and now he’s left sad and pissed off. And like anyone just after a breakup there’s a lot of anger. So he tells her to not only fuck off, but her friends too, as he felt they tore them apart. Lastly he hopes her dog, which got lost, never comes home either. This is all scathing and pretty damn funny. The production is once again top-notch, a credit to wizard Dave Cobb, who just can’t seem to do wrong.

The shortest and most lighthearted song on the album is “Drop ‘Em Out.” It’s a pretty simple song where Walker sings about boobs, specifically wanting the woman he’s talking to drop them out so he can look at them and pleasure himself. It’s pretty on-the-nose humor with some wacky rhyming that I just can’t but laugh at. As Walker said in an interview with Rolling Stone, it sounds just like an Oak Ridge Boys song. The gritty, guitar-driven “Eatin’ Pussy/Kickin’ Ass” is the album’s rally-crying anthem. If you had to point to the heart of this album, this is it. I don’t think I have to explain what this one’s about, although I will say towards the end of the song Walker takes an unexpected turn you need to hear yourself. Also one of the members of the backing band lets it be known he doesn’t want his name on this song, prompting a reaction from Walker that gave me a pretty good laugh. The self-explanatory “Fightin’, Fuckin’, Fartin’” keeps up the album’s crude bravado, although by this point the humor can start to wear a little thin. It isn’t a bad song, but one of the more forgettable ones on the album.

Another highlight of this album is “Better Off Beatin’ Off.” Walker once again demonstrates he has a surprising knack at pulling off funny, yet sad heartbreak songs. The story of the song goes the man is now swearing off women because they cause him too much heartbreak. So he comes to the realization that’s he better off alone with just himself and his hand. I think doubt begins to creep in his mind eventually though because he’s crying during it at one point, which paints a surprisingly funny image in your head. “Sit On My Face” sees Walker at his most generous on the entire album. Walker finds himself desperate as the bar begins to close and realizes he can’t be picky, so he invites a random woman back to his place to ride his face while he pleasures her. The amount of glee Walker expresses as he sings this song is both amusing and so fitting of this character. The most rocking song of the album closes out Redneck Shit, “Which One O’ You Queers Gonna Suck My Dick?”. This semen and alcohol covered album of course has to end with not only more of this, but try to take the premises even further. Now Walker is at a gay bar and looking for a guy willing to suck his dick. Eventually Walker finds his guy and accomplishes his goal, which we audibly get to hear, making it the appropriate way to finish this album.

Redneck Shit is the foulest and nastiest country album I’ve ever heard. And it’s absolutely great. Walker set out to make a quality country album and to piss off everyone in the process. To him I say mission accomplished. I will say though despite the disgusting nature of this album and how much it pushes the envelope, I still feel like he could have pushed it even further. I hope on the next album he goes even further. The instrumentation and production on this album though is top-notch and couldn’t be more country. It’s the anti-thesis to country radio. Waylon and Willie would be pretty damn proud. Not to mention there’s a lot of laughs to be had in every song. If you’re looking for an artist with a “fuck you” attitude who isn’t afraid to get weird and make traditional country music all at the same time, you need to listen to Wheeler Walker Jr. Move over Earl Dibbles Jr. The more talented and funny Wheeler Walker Jr. is here with Redneck Shit.

Grade: 8/10

 

(Note: If you aren’t aware, Wheeler Walker Jr. is a character played by comedian Ben Hoffman and is not an actual person, although at times it may seem like it. These aren’t his real views and the songs aim to be satire/humor. I treated him like a real artist in the review both because it’s fun and he’s more real than most major label country artists, despite being a character. )

Album Review – Jonathan Tyler’s ‘Holy Smokes’

Jonathan Tyler Holy Smokes

How the hell did I not know about Jonathan Tyler sooner? I love to convince myself I’m aware of the best country and Americana have to offer out there, but I most certainly don’t. That’s part of the excitement as a reviewer and fan of music: finding new awesome music and Jonathan Tyler is certainly a maker of awesome music. Originally Tyler was known as Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, but a lawsuit forced a name change. The band appeared to get their big break back in 2010 when they signed with Atlantic Records and their first album under the label, Pardon Me, experienced a lot of success. Unfortunately this partnership ended due to creative differences between the sides, as they wanted him to talk with a Jason Aldean producer and Tyler had no interest in compromising his vision. Now Tyler is with Thirty Tigers, home to Jason Isbell and several other talented artists in the country and Americana realms. It’s a good thing he got away from Atlantic too because we wouldn’t have gotten his new album Holy Smokes. And I like to think it’s named this because this is what you’ll say after listening to it.

The hard-hitting country rock anthem “Hallelujah” kicks off Holy Smokes. There’s plenty of electric guitar throughout this song to satiate any fans taste for it. You also find out right away that Tyler’s got a dynamic voice, allowing him to sing whatever he wants. A fast-paced and energetic song like this is the perfect song to start the album. The following song “Goin’ Down To The City” slows things down and is decidedly more country. The piano and acoustic guitar drive the sound of this song. There’s an underlying southern rock influence to the song too that gives it a laid back feeling. “Honey Pie” is a song about a man wanting a woman to accept him back into her life again. He wonders too why their love went dry in the first place, as he feels they had it all figured out some point. The lyrics and instrumentation are quite catchy and the desperation Tyler expresses in his voice as he sings really adds more of an edge to the song.

One of the highlights of the album to me is “Let It Out.” It’s a song about a man’s struggle with his internal demons and being unable to let go of a love he feels he deserves. The steel guitars throughout the song really help create a desperado state of mind in the listener, which fits perfectly with the theme of the song. Everything in this song simply works together well to make a great song. Jonathan Tyler is joined on “To Love Is To Fly” by fellow alt country singer Nikki Lane. Their voices really gel together well, as they sing this love ballad of two people falling in love. Both people realize they’re bad and great for each other, which they explain well through the song. This is another one of the high points of the album, as this song was tailor-made for a Tyler and Lane duet. Tyler shows off more of his Americana side on “California Sunshine.” The reason I say Americana is because the sound of this song is like a fusion of country, southern rock and blues. This is in a good way of course. I can’t get over how engaging and creative the instrumentation is throughout Holy Smokes. It’s one of the immediate draws of this album that will make you love it and this song is really the exemplification of it.

The most fun song of the album is hands-down “Riverbottom,” which I imagine is quite popular with live crowds. How could it not be? The high-energy guitars and pace make it easy to love. The song is about a man willing to do anything to get a woman to say she’ll be his. The chorus of the song really hooks you in and I guarantee after multiple listens it will be stuck in your head for a while. “Late Night Special” is a spacey and somewhat dark song about a woman calling up a man at late parts of the night. Or as she calls him, “Mr. Late Night Special.” I think you can infer the meaning here. The sound of this song is…I want to say weird, but it’s oddly mesmerizing at the same time. That’s about the best way I could describe it. Regardless it doesn’t matter if I can’t find the words to describe it, I just know it’s a damn good song.

Tyler collaborated with the well-known Texas singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard on “Hey Mama, My Time Ain’t Long” and you can sense from the first listen this song is special. It’s a dark cowboy ballad about a desperado who has committed some serious crimes. He knows the consequences are going to result in his death and continues to reiterate that his time isn’t long. There’s not one thing missing from this song and is easily the best on the album and one of the best songs I’ve heard this year.

“Disappear” is a song about a woman being encouraged to leave her small town and pursue her dreams in the big city or wherever she chooses. This is the type of song you can appreciate more with each listen, as the lyrics are well written and do a great job telling a story to the listener. The acoustic guitars and steel guitars combined with timely organ play in the background make for great instrumentation. In other words this is just another quality country song on an album full of them. The longest song on Holy Smokes, “Everything Was Cool in 2002,” closes the album out. It’s a smoky tune that sounds like it came straight out of New Orleans with its earthy guitar licks and organ play. It almost has a psychedelic air about it. The instrumentation in this song is absolutely flawless and the production is magnificent. It’s a strong closer to an album with very few weaknesses.

Jonathan Tyler’s Holy Smokes is an all-around terrific album. No beating around the bush in terms of a recommendation: Go buy this album as soon as possible. It’s full of cleverly written songs, excellent instrumentation and vocals that will impress any fan of alt country and Americana. Thank whatever deity you believe in that Tyler didn’t stick with Atlantic Records and produce neutered and watered down music. We wouldn’t have gotten this brilliant and refreshing album. It’s one of my favorite albums of the year and will surely be in the running for several of Country Perspective’s year-end awards. This is alt country at it’s best.

Grade: 10/10

 

The Hodgepodge: Why Your Favorite Independent Country Artist Will Probably Never Make It Big

Sturgillguitar

The meteoric rise of Sturgill Simpson has been discussed in-length recently. He went from railroad worker to indie country darling to major label artist over the course of the last five years. It’s unheard of to see an artist rise up the ranks so quickly. The obvious thing people will point out of course is his music is great and that was what catapulted him towards the top so quickly. While this is a nice quality to have as an artist, tell me how many untalented hacks make it the top of any music genre each year? Look at all of the bro country pretty boys that have risen out of nowhere to mainstream attention. Their music isn’t worth a damn and they “made it.” Look at the one-hit wonder crap that comes out in pop every year. The point is you don’t need to be talented to make it.

Now obviously having talent and making it are much better than making it and having no talent. You’ll have much more respect with the former. No, what many people don’t point out with Sturgill Simpson’s rise is the brilliant strategy of his team and their marketing efforts. Corporate country blogs like The Boot and Taste of Country are just now covering Simpson, but that was only after every independent country outlet was covering him. One of the first to cover Simpson was Trigger at Saving Country Music, who has covered him since Sturgill was in Sunday Valley. Trigger brought a good amount of eyes to Sturgill, including yours truly. So impressing independent country outlets is something that helped Sturgill.

The other brilliant move by Sturgill was choosing Thirty Tigers as his “label.” He could have easily went to some minor label who would have forced him into their demands and wishes. As Sturgill said he was going to go into debt either way and at least the independent route and maintaining creative control with Thirty Tigers allowed him to do exactly what he wanted, when he wanted to. Most labels wouldn’t have allowed him to release an album in the fall of 2013 and then turn around in the spring of 2014 with another. By releasing music so quickly back-to-back he kept people interested him, including fans and country outlets.

One other great move on Sturgill’s part that helped him gain attention was touring all over the country and having interviews with countless news outlets. It seemed like everyday I was reading a new interview from him. Nothing about these interviews were fancy either. Sturgill was just himself and his honesty is a quality that’s endearing to many of his fans. So the combination of constant media coverage, brilliant marketing strategy and just damn good music is what helped propel Sturgill to where he is now. This is much easier said than done though. For every Sturgill Simpson, there are hundreds of artists dropping out of music every week.

I see so many people say, “Well if Sturgill can make it, [insert indy darling artist’s name here] can make it too!” Well I hate to tell you, but you’re probably wrong. “But indy darling makes better music!” So what? I just said above you don’t need talent to make it. “But if an artist makes great music, people will find it and listen to it.” Not necessarily. Your whole “Build it and they will come,” Field of Dreams logic doesn’t make sense here or really in most real life cases. I think better logic to apply here is the age-old quote: “If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Not really. I’m sure there are plenty of great artists out there who made great music who have given up and moved on, just like Sturgill did at one point.

Mark at Spectrum Pulse, who reviews all genres of music, has brought this up numerous times concerning country music. He has said without a doubt country music artists are the worst when it comes to promotion and getting their name out to people. Many simply don’t do enough to be noticed or really anything to stand out. I myself see this everyday on Twitter. I get a few independent country artists following me hoping I follow back and write a nice, long post about how awesome their music is. Well here’s a news flash indy artists: I never do this. One because I don’t have the time and two I don’t owe you anything. If you want me to review your music and feature you on my site, reach out to me. There are plenty of independent artists that have and if I deem them appropriate for the site, I feature or review them.  And by reaching out I don’t mean requesting I copy and paste your bullshit PR piece. I don’t do that and don’t plan to ever do this. My job isn’t to promote artists. My job is to feature stuff my readers will be interested in and they certainly aren’t interested in PR fluff articles. If an artist makes great music, they definitely want to read about it.

Here’s the other common problem I see with independent, up and coming artists: no website. 99% of the time I will ignore an indy artist if they don’t have a website. Facebook pages and ReverbNation pages don’t cut it. An independent artist will never be taken seriously if they don’t have a website by news outlets like this or the fans. That being said a lot of independent artists don’t engage enough with social media. Now I know it can be a pain in the ass and many are so busy touring it’s hard to find time. I’ll just say this: fans appreciate being acknowledged. That’s really the other important aspect of Sturgill’s rise I almost forgot to mention. A dedicated, grass root of fans can definitely help you make it. Two big examples in mainstream country music are Brantley Gilbert and Chase Rice. Both have a very passionate fan base. When Jason Aldean started recording Gilbert’s music, I would see tons of comments from Gilbert fans crying how much better he is and that was what ultimately led me to find him. This goes back to engaging fans and making them passionate about artists and their music.

The point of this article isn’t to bash independent country artists. The point of it is to paint the reality of the situation. Sturgill Simpson is the exception, not the rule. It takes smart marketing and savvy deals (along with luck) to make it to the top. Also a lot of hard work, busting your ass on the road all year. There are a lot of artists that make great music that will never get heard because they don’t make the right decisions, don’t surround themselves with the right people and simply don’t catch enough breaks. The music business is cutthroat and harsh. Everyone can play, but only a few get heard.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Blackberry Smoke will release their new album Holding All The Roses next Tuesday. The southern fried, rock country group is releasing their first album in three years and it will be the first under new label Rounder Records. They were formerly with Southern Ground Records.
  • Love & Theft will also be releasing a new album, Whiskey On My Breath, next Tuesday. The lead single, “Whiskey on My Breath,” certainly impressed me and was different from anything ever released by the group before. Will the rest of the album be the same or is that song just an anomaly?
  • Dwight Yoakam just announced he will be releasing a new album titled Second Hand Heart, which will be released on April 14. The Bakersfield country artist was expected to release a new album this year and the announcement finally came. It will be the follow-up to this critically acclaimed 2013 album 3 Pears. I’m looking forward to hearing it.
  • Chris Stapleton will finally be releasing his debut album this year. It’s called Traveller and will come out on May 5. Fans have been waiting for years to hear the well-known songwriters’ first album. I could definitely see it being a dark horse candidate for album of the year.

Throwback Thursday Song

 

The Highwaymen – “Highwayman.” The Highwaymen was the greatest assembling of country music under one group ever. We will probably never have a country group with so much talent ever again. I only wish we could have heard more music from The Highwaymen. I would love to see a group of country artists try to form another supergroup. The possibilities with this are endless.

My Non-Country Thought of the Week

This past week the Super Bowl took place and one of the most talked about aspects every year with this game is the halftime performance. This year the main performer was Katy Perry, who was also joined by Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott. I thought it was an entertaining performance. I saw a lot of people though complain about it being a terrible performance music wise. Well here’s my rebuttal to that: What were you expecting? Katy Perry isn’t known for her great vocals. She’s an entertainer first and a musician second. I mean I can see if you expect this with past performers like The Who and the Rolling Stones. But with Katy Perry? How can you be so naive? This was all about flash, not substance. Adjust your Super Bowl halftime performance expectations based on the performer each year.

Tweet of the Week

Rita Ballou of Rawhide & Velvet is one of my favorite country follows on Twitter. And here she speaks the truth about certain country outlets I mentioned above just now covering Mr. Simpson.

An iTunes Review That Will Make You Face Palm

Aldean Face Palm

This is a review left under Jason Aldean’s Old Boots, New Dirt album. I don’t even know what is trying to be conveyed here.

That’s it for the Hodgepodge this week! Be sure to sound off in the comments! 

Photo Credit: sturgillsimpson.com

Sturgill Simpson Signing with Atlantic Records Could Make Huge Impact on Country Music

Sturgill Signs With Atlantic Records

As first reported by the always great Trigger at Saving Country Music, Sturgill Simpson has signed with Atlantic Records and is now a major label artist. Sturgill confirmed the news on his Facebook page with the cryptic photo above. According to Trigger, Simpson will be part of the Warner Music Group and that he was courted by several major labels before deciding to sign with Atlantic Records. And don’t worry Simpson fans: Trigger says that Simpson chose Atlantic because they’re allowing him to retain creative control. In fact Simpson is in the studio now making his third album with his producer Dave Cobb and it will be released through Atlantic Records.

So this is pretty exciting news. I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw it. My first thought on the news is I’m very happy for Simpson and his family. This couldn’t happen to a better guy and he deserves to be heard by as many people as possible. Just look at the names up on that picture above. Simpson is now with the same label that gave Willie Nelson his big start in country music. He’s on the same label so many legendary artists across several genres made their name and forever made their mark in the history books. And if you’re wondering why Skrillex is included, Simpson is on record as a big fan of his work. I can imagine that he’s a big fan of all these artists that are listed on the photo.

What does this mean for Simpson’s music career moving forward? This means he now has a lot more push behind his music. He now has a much greater chance of getting on the radio, if the right song gets popular enough. Simpson released his first two records under the independent label Thirty Tigers and he is still above several mainstream artists in the country albums iTunes chart. He’s currently ahead of the most recent albums released by Cole Swindell, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum and Kenny Chesney. If he can do this as an independent artist, imagine now what he can do as a major label artist. The sky is truly the limit, but remember the further he climbs up the ladder the harder it is to continue to move up.

Simpson won’t be getting any Florida Georgia Line-sized push anytime soon I can imagine. He’s not that popular (yet). According to Windmills Country, he will be under the same branch at Atlantic as Ashley Monroe, Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam. That’s pretty good company, huh?

I know I would pay money to see any of these artists in concert and as Windmills points out this is Atlantic’s four most country acts all under the same branch. Brandy Clark of course was nominated for the CMA’s New Artist of the Year award and is also nominated for multiple Grammy’s this year (Best New Artist and Best Country Album). So could we see Sturgill being nominated for these awards soon? It’s definitely possible now. Simpson is up for a Grammy this year too for Best Americana Album, but many were disappointed he wasn’t correctly put under country. I mean the word country is right in the album title! With a major label backing him, I think there’s a good possibility that he could be up for Grammys under the country umbrella and the CMA will have to take notice too.

Don’t be surprised if we see a new album from Sturgill within the next six months. He’s slated to play at several huge festivals across the country, which include Bonnaroo, Coachella, Stagecoach and the Governor’s Ball. It would make perfect sense to release an album right when playing at these huge events because he could gain a ton of new fans. Simpson said it himself that he has several people tell him that they hate country music, but they love his music. Those are the type of people who will be at these major music festivals, except for Stagecoach which is like a country version of Coachella.

Some fans out there are already worrying that Simpson is going to go “Hollywood” or the label is going to mess his music up. I’ll reiterate what Trigger reported again: Simpson still has creative control over his music. He would not sign with a major label if this wasn’t the case. Simpson was perfectly content to stay independent if no major label would give him control. This is the best of both worlds for Simpson, as he will continue to make the music he loves and will be compensated much more financially. Don’t be a selfish hipster and decry this move. Be happy your favorite artist is starting to get the recognition he deserves.

Many people across country music have already been talking about the genre turning the tides and making improvements before this news even dropped. Now it’s looking even better. With the return of Jamey Johnson, Zac Brown Band covering Jason Isbell on national television, Mickey Guyton getting a ton of attention and Simpson signing with a major label, traditional country fans have a lot to be thankful for already in 2015. We could all look back on this as a historical moment in time not just in 2015, but in all of country music history. This could be the beginning of a big change across the genre. Bro country is fading into obscurity and traditional country is on the rise. They say it’s always darkest before the dawn. Well the dawn might finally be here.