In Sturgill Simpson’s first three albums, he reincarnated a style of country music that seemed long gone. With an acoustic guitar in hand and a slide guitar in the band, Simpson sounded like Waylon Jennings — a refreshing change from the pop-country that has taken over the airwaves of most major country radio stations. Modern lyrics with an old school sound seemed to be Simpson’s modus operandi — until now.

Simpson’s fourth album, “Sound and Fury,” is anything but old-school, and almost everything but country. With tracks that resemble hard rock, alternative and even synthpop, “Sound and Fury” is a complete 180 from Simpson’s earlier work. To fans of Simpson’s earlier work it might be alarming, but this isn’t just a country star crossing over to more popular genres — this is a man taking a stand for what he believes in.

After hearing that the Country Music Association asked journalists and musicians not to talk about the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, gun rights, or any other political issues at the Country Music Awards, Simpson staged a busk outside of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, where he could speak freely. And in case Nashville didn’t hear him loud enough, two years later enter “Sound and Fury:” a full-length album with an accompanying anime feature on Netflix.

Musically, “Sound and Fury” isn’t my cup of tea, at times the music drowns out Simpson’s voice but his lyrical work hits heavier than ever with lines like “Looking out the window at a world on fire, it’s plain to see the end is near,” from the track “Make Art Not Friends.”

The first track titled ‘Ronin,’ which translates to a wandering samurai who has no master, sums up the thrust of the album: Simpson is going to make the music he wants to, and he doesn’t care who likes it. You can’t get much more outlaw than that.

The anime film is trippy as all get out, but I love when artists push the boundaries and the most important part of the film doesn’t happen until the credits have all rolled by. Simpson dedicates “Sound and Fury” to the lost souls and the victims of senseless violence around the world.”

If you haven’t already, check out “Sound and Fury” — it’s worth a listen or a watch. I’d say it’s worth buying, but who am I kidding, who buys albums anymore?

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Jacob Thompson