Sturgill Simpson has officially announced his 5th album named The Ballad of Dood & Juanita to be released on August 20th, and according to the hashtag accompanying the announcement, it will be “Yer Pawpaw’s country music.” The album appears to be titled after Sturgill’s grandparents. Lawrence “Dood” Fraley was Sturgill’s grandfather who was the inspiration behind his song “Hero,” and also appears in the introduction of his album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.
Sturgill says about the conceptualized album, “I Just wanted to write a story— not a collection of songs that tell a story, but an actual story, front to back. [This album is] a rollercoaster ride through all the styles of traditional country and bluegrass and mountain music that I love, including gospel and a capella. It is a simple tale of either redemption or revenge.”
Sturgill has always espoused that he would release only five albums in his career, and this would make the 5th—though this doesn’t count side projects and other releases, including his two recent bluegrass volumes under the Cuttin’ Grass title. Whether the ultimately holds to that plan or not and The Ballad of Dood & Juanita ends up being his final album, the release is likely to be a significant one in his trajectory either way.
Sturgill Simpson said back in February that he was done writing the new record, but he was going to take his time recording it. So either he found that time, or the timeline got moved up for another reason. Either way, The Ballad of Dood & Juanita will be here August 20th digitally and on CD via Thirty Tigers, with vinyl showing up on December 3rd due to the tremendous backlog in the vinyl market at the moment.
“I’m already pretty much done writing my next record now,” Sturgill told Relix in February, “I’m gonna take my sweet-ass time on this one because I’m pretty sure I’m about to make my opus and then bow out and vaporize like Houdini. I’ve put out three records in about a year, so I feel like I owe myself and the music a little space to really hunker down with the subject matter. That’s really all I can say, but I’m going to take my time because, for so many reasons, I finally have the time. That’s the bittersweet thing. What monumentally has been the shittiest, strangest, most surreal year of my lifetime has also been the most gratifying and greatest year of my career.”
Sturgill went onto address if he would make more albums than five in the interview, saying, “At a certain point, I don’t want to say I’ll never make another record, but this five-album narrative was really clear when I moved to Nashville. My wife really helped me carve that out, in terms of how to go about the beginning, middle and end for each chapter. But then after that, I am not sure. I love the studio. I like sleeping in my bed. I like seeing other people succeed. And I really love helping other people succeed—people like Tyler [Childers]or Margo [Price] or Lucette or anybody else who would be willing to work with me. I can’t think of any other greater way to use the knowledge or experience—or whatever you want to call it—that I’ve gained from the last seven or eight years, then by helping other people who I’m already impressed with make more music that will improve the musical landscape, as opposed to just 20 more Sturgill records.”
Often when talking about his “five album plan,” Sturgill has mentioned the final installment would go back to his roots after the more expansive, Grammy-winning A Sailor’s Guide to Earth in 2016, and the full-tilt rock and roll of 2019’s Sound & Fury.
Sturgill Simpson has also been getting into acting, and it was announced in April that he would be appearing in the new Martin Scorsese film Killers of the Flower Moon.