You probably recognize Electric Guest from This Head I Hold. The song is doing laps around other pop tracks on Spotify. It’s upbeat hop and skip is part of a recent movement to revitalize soul. Maybe you heard Pharrell’s Happy?
The L.A. band is mastering a crucial balancing act, teetering somewhere in between indie and mainstream circles. They’ve performed on Fallon, Conan and Letterman, but avoid the corporate sell out label.
With their new album, Plural, Electric Guest shows off an unabashed sentimentality, most intense on the track, “Dear to Me.” It’s sweet, but too sweet. Sickly sweet. And the clear stand out on the album is Electric Guest’s confrontation with a darker side, on “Oh Devil,” a tune that will undoubtedly light the radio on fire.
“I’ll do the one that you guys spend all the time talking about,” said Sturgill Simpson, his guitar resting on his lap.
Sturgill strums a few bars and then stops abruptly.
“Actually just about every journalist so far that I’ve read has covered this song, but I don’t think anybody has actually nailed down what it’s actually about.” Sturgill talks through tight lips. “So my fault… for being too cryptic.”
Laughter ripples through the audience at NPR’s tiny desk concert. Everyone’s in on the same joke and coolness oozes from Sturgill Simpson and his worn-in Converse shoes.
“It’s actually all about drugs…”
The small gathering shifts uncomfortably. Someone coughs. Sturgill soaks in the awkwardness, like any country star worth his brass would make a few NPR stiffs squirm before handing over what everyone had come for – his perfect, soul-probing voice.