Sturgill Simpson The Ballad of Dood & Juanita
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Sturgill Simpson Says 'The Ballad of Dood & Juanita' Will Be His Final Solo Album

Sturgill Simpson's third album in less than a year, following the October and December 2020 releases of his bluegrass two-parter Cuttin' Grass, is a throwback of a different sort titled The Ballad of Dood & Juanita.

"I just wanted to write a story — not a collection of songs that tell a story, but an actual story, front to back," Simpson said in a press release. He also describes the project as a "rollercoaster ride through all the styles of traditional country and bluegrass and mountain music that I love, including gospel and a cappella."

Stereogum reports that The Ballad of Dood & Juanita "features the same band who played on those Cuttin' Grass albums and was recorded in less than a week."

The overused term "outlaw" applied to Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and others because they valued the creative freedom sometimes forfeited by mainstream artists, not because of hard living or surly attitudes toward proper society. If anyone now truly follows that path, it's Simpson. His one-year run of bluegrass jams and a new concept album was preceded in 2019 by the psychedelic, synth-driven and Grammy award-nominated anime soundtrack Sound & Fury.

Speaking of Nelson, one of the better cuts, "Juanita," brings the South of the Border influence often associated with past stories told by the Red Headed Stranger, Marty Robbins and others. Nelson appears on the song, which offers a lot of context about the broader story being told by Simpson— In the setting of Kentucky in 1862, Dood's wife Juanita gets kidnapped by a bandit named Seamus McClure.

The new album arrived digitally and on CD on Aug. 20, with a vinyl release following on Dec. 3.

Per an interview with Rolling Stone, The Ballad of Dood & Juanita concludes a planned five-album run of solo releases, which chronicle "metamorphosis of the human soul, from past life to conception, and then to flesh and experience and suffering, coming back to the light or being reborn." Never fear, fans: every word matters in the phrase "last solo album."

"I always said there would be five, and I wondered if I'd go back on that," Simpson said. "But it really has cemented every step of the way how much I don't want to carry all that weight. Going forward, I'd like to form a proper band with some people who I really love and respect musically, and be a part of something truly democratic in terms of creativity. Not having to stand up there behind my name would allow me to be even more vulnerable, in a way."

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Simpson's currently on location filming the Martin Scorsese film Killers of the Flower Moon. The singer-songwriter will hit the road in September and October for dates on Nelson's Outlaw Music Festival tour and a sold-out residency at Webster Hall in New York City.

The Ballad of Dood & Juanita track list:

1.  "Prologue"
2.  "Ol' Dood" (part I)
3.  "One in the Saddle, One on the Ground"
4.  "Shamrock"
5.  "Played Out"
6.  "Sam"
7.  "Juanita" (featuring Willie Nelson)
8.  "Go in Peace"
9.  "Epilogue"
10. "Ol' Dood" (part II)